Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Movie Review: The Sapphires



Last week, B and I (and a close friend of ours) went to see The Sapphires. And I don't know about the other two, but I thought it was excellent! I had high expectations of this film, and it did not disappoint at all.

The film is set in 1968, and follows a quartet of singers (Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell) from a remote Aboriginal mission, who are discovered by soul-loving manager (Chris O'Dowd). They start out briefly singing country and western, but Dave - the manager - steers them in the direction of soul classics like I Heard I Through The Grapevine, What A Man, Who's Lovin' You, and Sugar Pie Honey Bunch. The girl group take their act to auditions in Melbourne and are picked up - to sing for the troops in Vietnam.

One the one hand, The Sapphires is a light-hearted, fun movie. The music is great, the cast is charming, and there's a lot of warmth and dry, Australian humour. On the other hand, the film is set during the Vietman war - half of it takes place actually in the war, on site - and it also deals extensively with the endemic racism faced by people of colour. Not only are the Sapphires in Vietnam to perform for (only) black troops, but one, Kay, is a living example of the stolen generation. Kay's sub-plot explores the way she reclaims her Indigenous heritage, and I thought it was a subtly effective part of the story. In addition to the Australian racism on show, the American troops are shown to have similar experiences, with one white soldier refusing treatment by a black medic. The two sides - Australian and American - are brought together towards the end of the film, when the assassination of Martin Luther King is reported and the loss is shown to affect not only on the US troops, but on the Indigenous Australians in the mission back home.

But one thing I liked about this film is that these issues are carefully woven in amongst the charm, present but not overpowering. The film doesn't shy away from portraying racism and oppression, and the damage caused is visible. But it's presented in a way that's almost matter-of-fact, and the characters don't lose hope or succumb. They refuse to be victims, they take the opportunities they get, and they have fun as often as possible. These women are strong, confident and most importantly of all, they care about each other. They want better lives, they want to be in love; I really liked the message here. I thought this film was well balanced between real-world issues and the idealised fun of the musical genre.

So, overall? Go see The Sapphires. It's a charming, fun film, with a fantastic soundtrack and a real-world background.


2 comments:

  1. Great Review, Jane. Exactly how I felt about it. Great Australian movie.

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  2. thank you i like visit here tell about the sapphires online i can choose of your article the best and thank you to watch online the sapphires free Inspired by a true story, THE SAPPHIRES follows four vivacious, young and talented Australian Aboriginal girls from a remote mission as they learn about love

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