The SapphiresDirector: Wayne Blair, Hopscotch Films, Rated PG, 103 mins
Wayne Blair, the Aboriginal actor in Wish You Were Here and director of the TV Series Dead Gorgeous, has made his first feature film, a truly heartwarming account of a quartet of young talented singers from an Aboriginal mission who get the opportunity to perform on the world stage.
The story’s setting is the late 1960’s and the four indigenous sisters (later calling themselves “The Sapphires”) are Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell - Mabo), Gail (Deborah Mailman - Bran Nue Dae), Julie (Jessica Mauboy - Bran Nue Dae) and Kay (Shari Sebbens in her debut role) who come to the notice of a heavy drinking but kind-hearted piano player named Dave (Chris O’Dowd - Friends with Kids).
He soon realises their singing potential, transforming them from country and western singers to singing pure soul, becoming their manager and arranging their first overseas gig-entertaining the American troops in Vietnam where the horrors of war are vividly depicted and experienced by each member of the troupe.
Blair’s feel good movie and the rise of Australia’s answer to “The Supremes” has been skillfully adapted from the highly successful stage musical of the same name (based on a true story written by Tony Briggs) and set against the racial and social turbulence of the 60’s that also shows the non-acceptance of Aboriginal people by the wider community.
There are many highlights in Blair’s enjoyable and inspirational storyline of The Sapphires during a difficult period in Australia’s history (supported by actual historical TV footage) with some great performances on show especially from AFI award winner Deborah Mailman (described as “Mama Bear”), Chris O’Dowd as the caring and charismatic manager as well as Jessica Mauboy strutting her sensational singing voice.
The Sapphires is pure entertainment, blending the elements of comedy, culture, emotion, music and romance into a sparkling jewel that brightly shines and will ultimately become part of the rich tapestry of Australian made films.
VIC'S VERDICT: 4 Rubber Stamps
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