Verdict: 4 / 5
When a film is able to combine a human interest story, cultural interchange, political relevance, humour and a beautiful soundtrack, you know its creators have perfected the art of storytelling. The Sapphires is a film that is sure to envelope and engross you. It has all the charm, emotion and talent to make it a favourite among many viewers and a film worthy of purchase for any movie collection.
The plot is based on an incredible true story about a group of young Australian Aboriginal sisters who are determined to make a name for themselves and to be seen as equals in the eyes of the world. The story of their rise to fame is set against the assassination of Martin Luther King Jnr, the Vietnam War and the battle of the Aboriginals as they struggle to attain basic human rights in their own country. Sisters, Gail (Deborah Mailman), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) and Julie McCrae (Jessica Mauboy), meet up with a drunken and aimless music hall MC (Chris O’Dowd) after being kicked out of the local pub for being “Abo’s”. They soon convince him to become their manager and arrange an opportunity for them to try-out for a touring gig in Vietnam. Later joined by their cousin (Shari Sebbens), one of the “Stolen Generation” abducted and raised by whites, they travel Vietnam, fall in love and make a name for themselves outside of their compound.
The selection and direction of cast allowed the performances to freely flow, and the natural wit and genuine chemistry between cast members to shine. Other than the unfortunate noticeable SFX that could cause your suspension of disbelief to be shattered momentarily, the cinematography, editing and direction made this a pleasure to watch. No wonder it has been honoured with Best Original Soundtrack/Cast/Show Album at the 26th Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Music Awards, as well as Best Film, Direction, Cinematography, Editing, Sound, Lead Actress and Actor among many others at the 2nd Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards.
This is an extraordinary story encased in a striking film that really illuminates the rich culture, history, tenacity, wit and humour of the Aboriginal people who are often seen as drunken second class citizens to this day.