Feel Good with “The Sapphires”
“The Sapphires” is a tale of racial prejudice on the other side of the world, in
Like “42” it is based on the true story of the first-ever Aboriginal girl
singing group. Because the girls sing Motown classics on a tour of Vietnam, you
have a great musical soundtrack, sung by four very talented women.
Like African-Americans, the native Aborigines of Australia and
New Zealand were mistreated,
segregated and scorned by the Caucasian immigrants to the remote British outpost. The
worst part was they were not granted equal rights until 1967.
“The Sapphires’ begins in 1958 with the Sapphires as little girls. Three of the girls sing at amateur competitions and show natural talent, despite prejudices against Aborigines.
The film flashes forward to 1968 with the girls in their teens. A fourth member, Kay (Shari Sebbens) is reunited with her darker-skinned cousins after having been forcefully removed from her family and relocated to Sydney to be raised as a white person.
Eldest Gail (Deborah Mailman) is the natural leader of the group, but her younger sister Julie (Jessica Mauboy) has a better voice than Gail or her sister Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell). Talent scout Dave Lovelace (Chris O’Dowd) realizes this hard fact instantly and insists Julie sing lead.
Dave Lovelace is a lovable drunk and a bit of a screw-up but he knows talent and he knows how to land a gig. He gets a booking with the U.S. Armed Forces for lonely, entertainment-starved GIs on the battlefront.
“The Sapphires” is a highly fictionalized story based on real Aboriginal sisters who did tour
Vietnam in 1968. The script is by
Keith Thompson and Tony Briggs. Briggs created a stage play before the movie,
which is directed by Wayne Blair.
While there are some stock dramatic contrivances and romantic detours, “The Sapphires” is basically a feel-good story of triumph over adversity, with a great soundtrack you can dance to.