The Sapphires - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Sapphires Reviews

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February 9, 2018
Black people good. White people who like 'black' music good. The rest are racist. Plus an unfunny script. Equals this movie.
½ April 28, 2017
Wonderful movie! Sensitive, great music and Dave O'Dowd is fantastically witty in this.
April 8, 2017
I never expected someone like me to watch a movie like this, but I an somewhat glad I did.
½ January 11, 2017
Great movie! I really enjoyed this one and the story it told of the struggles to success and the music was great too.
December 31, 2016
It's good movie to watch
November 4, 2016
See this movie. I did. And I quote "While it's plenty predictable and sentimental, The Sapphires also has an irresistible feel-good vibe, winning music and charm.
August 23, 2016
This is a sleeper hit this one. Beautifully directed. Definitely a must watch.
½ June 24, 2016
Outback Australia, late-1960s. An Irish entertainer, Dave Lovelace, is working as an MC at a small pub. He is impressed by a trio of Aboriginal women who sang country tunes in a pub competition. Seeing an advert for musicians needed to entertain the troops in Vietnam, he convinces them to try out for the gig. Their cousin in Melbourne also joins the band. One thing - they will sing soul music.

Sweet, energetic movie with great music. Plot is okay, though a bit cheesy and forumulaic. Some scenes feel contrived - the race issues and discussions, while highly plausible and relevant, often seem to be jammed into the plot without much context. The basic set up of the movie - manager convinces bunch of struggling musicians to switch to soul music, rest is history - feels very derivative of The Commitments, especially as the manager is Irish.

This all said, it is well-intentioned, is never dull and has a great energy and vibrancy. Some good humour too.

Best of all, the music is great. Many soul classics, performed and recorded well.
½ June 8, 2016
Thoroughly enjoyable.
Super Reviewer
½ June 8, 2016
Infectious "bio" about real life aboriginal girl band, popular with the soldiers in Vietnam while the U.S. was embroiled in that conflict there during the late 1960's. While it's nice to see an Aussie film that stretches the Aboriginal cliches, this is a generic treatment safe for the Lifetime cable network. "If we sing a song will that cure all our troubles?" The answer in this film is "yes!"
½ June 1, 2016
Supported by the industry might of Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein, Actor/theatre director Wayne Blair makes his sparkling directorial debut. Originally performed as a stage musical in 2005, The Sapphires is an undemanding good hearted crowd pleaser.

This infectiously entertaining based-on-a-true-story rags-to-riches romantic drama doesn't rely merely its soulful 1960's singers to deliver but its own vibrancy. Selection for its world premiere the Cannes film festival and subsequently receiving a delighted 10 minute standing ovation by an enraptured audience should - for those who hold a degree of resistance towards seeing the domestic release - lay any qualms to rest.

In 1968, indigenous sisters Gail (Deborah Mailman) and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsekll) pilgrim from their remote Aboriginal mission to a nearby dusty outback pub to participate in a local talent contest disregarding the indignant protest of their mulish under-age sister, Julie (Jessica Mauboy). Vehemently claiming to be the most talented Julie bursts in during their ignored performance rounding out the chorus.

Shunned and discounted by the bigoted townsfolk, their unwelcomed presence peaks the interest of the shows Irish lanky-bozer compere, Dave (Chris O'Dowd). Instantly recognizing their talents, the kind hearted but unprepared rover turns talent scout convincing the girls to let him become their manager.

First order of business is to drop the droning country & western in favor of a timeless soul sound, second is to get them an audition with the American entertainment agency and third is to convince the family's elders to allow the Julie to participate.

Forbidden to go and forced to stay at home whilst Gail and Cynthia approach their quietly confused cousin, Kay (Shari Sebbens) as a replacement, Julie once again runs away to join them. But under Dave's honest guidance the quartet transitions into Australia's answer to "The Supremes", landing their first gig to sing for American troops in Vietnam as "The Sapphires".

Arriving in the middle of the war zone, their lives are transformed. Dave overindulges in alcohol, Cynthia relishes in sex and drugs, Kay is confronted by her racially driven heritage, Julie is overwhelmed by their surroundings and Gail attempts to hold it all together and keep them all safe from rouge bullets flying around the atmosphere charged location.

A wonderful plucked from obscurity- getting recognition for natural talents story, The Sapphires belts out but doesn't over embellish loved generation tunes from Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Linda Lydell to name a few.

Perhaps lacking a little depth in the fundamental issues of the era, key subjects are hinted at but never really raised leaving the film craving greater emotional resonance. Opting to sideline and discard the weightier issues of discrimination, racism, the physical horrors of troops at war and the inner anxieties to perform under such conditions.

The marginally contrived film is rather glossy and superficial where is should be more dynamic and richer. Singing from the peaks would have reverberated further if grounded in deeper reality and given time to focus when things threatened to get ugly.

That being said, with the story not being bogged down by political undertones, the films astute casting and performances really get a chance to shine. In one particular touching goosebump moment, after receiving a shock the emotionally drained Sapphires harmoniously sing in their native Yorta Yorta language the Ngarra Burra Ferra gospel song down the phone line to their worried mother.

Managing the winning assets is O'Dowd, effortlessly flowing with comedic energy yet conveying sincerity through all his character's flaws makes down-on-his-luck Irish talent quest compere Dave so likeable we become instantly attached.

O'Dowd's comfortable banter with expressive leading lady Mailman, the embodiment of tougher, wiser and protective mama bear, is genuine if a little awkward. This has a flow on effect to the sister' joshing around, which is fluid and for anyone with sisters, completely natural.

Mauboy is obviously most vocally capable but manages not to overshadow as the indignant, Julie. Tapsell is spunky and frivolous as the romantically inept Cynthia whilst Sebbens walks the fine line between somber and fun as half-caste 'stolen generation' cousin, Kay.

The Verdict: Heavy handed politics aren't always required to dominate in order to create impact. Timing, Australian's own inert simplicity and the films subtle allusion to situations resonates to enthusiastically applauding international audience and curtails home-grown pessimism.

Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 17/08/2012
May 9, 2016
chris o'dowd sings sugar pie honey bunch so yknow
February 25, 2016
A cracking movie. Funny, painful, with great music and based on a true story to boot. Some nice vignettes of casual racism within the US forces in Vietnam. A tad too glittery in places, and with some mildly implausible battle scenes.
February 12, 2016
This movie contains a lot of things I hold dearly in my life. Music, history and a heartfelt movie of social injustice. I highly recommend it.
January 28, 2016
½ January 27, 2016
pretty good, and lots of great music.
January 10, 2016
Simmering and likeable comedy drama with a positive style and some decent tunes.
January 9, 2016
Okay. They were white in real life though.
½ January 3, 2016
Paint by the numbers pandering in all the laziest ways imaginable. Despite this, Chris O'Dowd makes the stretch endlessly charming.
January 2, 2016
Liked it much more at the 2nd watching tonight!!
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