Review: The Sapphires
It’s 1960’s Australia, and four young girls with soulful sounds and hopeful hearts are discovered by an out-of-luck manager, and together they gain fame and tour the world. The Vietnam War hangs in the background, as race relations, a ‘stolen generation,’ and broken hearts dramatized this movie musical.
Who’s in It?
Chris O’Dowd is exceptionally winning The Sapphires charming and oft-drunken manager Dave Lovelace.
A familiar story is told, but a true one, set in an unfamiliar time and place, with unfamiliar actresses, but very popular songs. In that balance, there lies an enjoyable, albeit simple film about the rise of Australia’s all-girl aboriginal pop singing group, that occasionally dips its toes in the waters of turmoil and racism.
O’Dowd is incredibly charming, whether or not he is drinking (though especially when he is drinking), playing the role of the optimistic manager. The girls are lovely too, but markedly different: there is the older alpha sister, the rising star, the sex/love fiend, and the outcast. Throw in some very popular soul music of the 1960’s, and it’s hard not to be hooked and dazzled.
Afterwards, however, once the applause and clapping and music end, there is not much left, though there doesn’t really need to be. The film goes no further than ‘lovely’ and ‘charming,’ as Lovelace gets them an audition to tour Vietnam and entertain the troops, with the girls amazing audiences each step of the way. The brutal nature of war cannot be ignored, and director Wayne Blair curiously adds in mere seconds of real life footage amid the colorful and glossy film fiction.
Lovelace and the girls—The Sapphires, a name they quickly adopt—travel around Vietnam, meet men, entertain, and once in a while question just what exactly they are doing there. Hearts swell and break, and bullets do eventually fly, but it’s never so harsh that the audience is forced to think critically or be emotionally challenged.
The Sapphires will grab everyone, and that is exactly what is should do—the music universal and catchy, the dialogue witty and sometimes adult, and when bad things start to happen, those in power make sure it doesn’t happen for too long. There is nothing a little James Brown can’t cure.
Should I See It?
It’s better than most of its ilk, and perfect if you want something care free and uplifting.
O’Dowd, always either charming or funny, and usually both, critiques a song: “Can you make it sound blacker?”