Matt's Review of The Sapphires
The Sapphires came out of left field! When I watched the trailer I was completely sold and it's the first time in a long time that I liked the movie just as much as the trailer. This film is hard not to love and tap your feet to, thanks to its fantastic soundtrack of Motown and classic rock, which is two types of music I absolutely love. By far the best, beginning to end entertainment of the year. I loved it!
The film is about the fascinating and inspiring true story about four extraordinary talented Aboriginal women, sisters Laurel Robinson, Lois Peeler and their cousins Beverley Briggs and Naomi Mayers. They enter a singing talent contest to win a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour Vietnam and perform in front of American troops. Shockingly they did not win the contest even though they were clearly the best of the bunch, much due to the racism back then. The determination, not back down attitude and amazing vocal talent of the sisters catches the eyes and ears of talent scout Dave Lovelace, played by Chris O'Dowd who gives a knockout performance here. Dave gives them a shot and before you know it they are off to a life changing experience where they discover love, loss, respect, war, freedom and showbiz.
The performances were fantastic and extremely charming! Chris O'Dowd owned it as the humorous, good-hearted, booze-drinking talent scout Dave Lovelace. This was definitely the best I've seen from O'Dowd yet and this performance reminded me of Tom Hanks in A League Of Their Own, it was hysterical, blunt but full of love and passion. The performances from the four young women who played the Aboriginal sisters were a tour de force! They were charming, feisty, and if that was their real voices incredible singers! It was great and well thought that they picked unknown actresses to play the sisters and not plastic Barbies from Hollywood. They were real women playing real women and I loved that. The real standout was Deborah Mailman who plays Gail; she had so much charisma, charm, fiery spark, depth, chemistry with the cast and heart in this performance that it is truly a breakthrough for this actress. Jessica Mauboy who plays Julie lights up the screen as the better singer and the youngest of the sisters. When Jessica gets up on stage and performs was magical and sublime, clearly a talent to look out for. Miranda Tapsell and Shari Sebbens who play Cynthia and Kay were exceptional and had their special moments as well. Thanks to a generous and clever script nothing was underused and was meticulous, had quiet and poignant moments as well as big, entertaining and showstopper moments with no overshadowing. Definitely the best acting ensemble yet of this year.
Director, Wayne Blair makes his full-length film debut with The Sapphires and even though it's his first he has already outdone himself. The attention to detail, the locations, the direction of the actors and film, the soundtrack and the whole vibe was delivered beautifully and with great passion and a sense of humor and wit. Wayne does the true story justice and then some. I'm definitely looking forward to see what next gem he is going to bring us next. Writer, Tony Briggs whose mother, Laurel Robinson was apart of the real life singing group on which this movie is based on, delivers a heartfelt memoir on his mom's experience with the singing group who was billed as Australia's answer to The Supremes. He should be proud! Co-writer Keith Thompson is probably the one behind the wit and charm of the script that blends well the inspirational true story and it's quite impressive for only his second writing contribution to a full-length movie.
Overall, The Sapphires is an absolute crowd pleaser of the greatest kind. The type of film that comes along once in a blue moon. You would have to have no soul if you said you did not walk out of the theater, when the movie was over, with a smile on your face. You will love it instantly and will make you want to get up and dance in the aisles to the oldies. Great story, great acting, great atmosphere and fantastic music. It's full of life and it's food for the soul! Highly recommended!!!