AFF 2012 Review: THE SAPPHIRES

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

In 1968, four Australian aboriginal girls pursue their musical dreams when given the opportunity to form a singing group. When Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy), and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) are snubbed at a local talent show because of their race, washed up musician Dave (Chris O’Dowd) recognizes their talent, and defends their right to perform and be judged fairly.  The girls reluctantly agree to let him manage them when they discover an opportunity to perform in a tour for the U.S. armed forces in Vietnam.  The sisters recruit their cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens), undergo training and rehearsals with Dave, and become a sensational soul/R &B singing group.  During the tour, the girls must contend with personal differences, a budding romance between Dave and one of the girls, and the hazards of performing in Southeast Asia.

For the most part, the story plays out like a typical movie about racially oppressed women pursuing their dreams in the music business.  The only difference is that this story is told about aboriginal girls from Australia rather than African American girls in the U.S.  While it is a story worth tellling, director Wayne Blair and writers Tony Briggs and Keith Thompson bring little new to the table.  Still, I managed to enjoy watching the story with these highly likable characters and with exceptional performances by the cast.  Chris O’Dowd clearly is the standout here as he performs well in both the comedic and dramatic scenes.  I also found much enjoyment in the film’s soundtrack.  Perhaps it’s not a must see, but one could do much worse.

 

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