The critics at Cannes loved it, and now it's Australia's turn to embrace the toe-tapping, feel-good Australian musical comedy-drama, The Sapphires
. With a stellar cast, an infectious soul soundtrack and a dynamic 1960s backdrop of revolution and rebellion, this vibrant gem is hard to resist.
Adapted from Tony Briggs
' popular 2005 stage play, The Sapphires
tells the incredible true story of four Aboriginal women from an isolated outback mission who form a girl group to perform for American troops during the Vietnam War in 1968.
Young mum Julie (Jessica Mauboy
), "mama bear" oldest sister Gail (Deborah Mailman
), serial flirt Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell
) and fair-skinned Melbourne cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens
) enlist Irish booze-hound (Chris O'Dowd
) to manage them and get them up to scratch for their international tour.
In Saigon, the Sapphires experience the highs and lows of love and success amid the tumult of the Vietnam War, the American civil rights movement, and their own issues as young indigenous women.
Director Wayne Blair
infuses The Sapphires
with a ballsy, offbeat sense of humour that cuts through the sentiment, and strikes right to the heart of the rebellious spirit of the women and the music they sing.
Mauboy and Mailman are commanding screen presences, and they make a mint out of their characters Julie, the lead singer just discovering her voice (as a woman and
singer), and Gail, the defensive "boss" of the group. Bridesmaids
and The IT Crowd
's O'Dowd is extremely likeable as their dopey manager Dave Lovelace.
You'll want to buy the soundtrack to listen again to songs like 'I Heard it Through the Grapevine', 'I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)', and 'What a Man'.
The script by Keith Thompson
and Tony Briggs
(the latter being the son of an original Sapphire), is a bit heavy-handed at times, hammering home messages about war and race relations that most viewers can sense without needing to be signposted.
Nevertheless, The Sapphires
is often laugh-out-loud funny, constantly entertaining, and close to being a great Australian classic.
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Watch The Sapphires trailer here