Every so often (let’s say once every other year), there comes a movie that makes you smile all over, inside and out. The Sapphires is one such movie. Yes, it is formulaic, and yes, you probably know how it will end (it is based on a true story, so do your own research before you go in), but the film plays with such joyous abandon that you cannot help but get caught up in the entire proceeding. It is a warm, sunny, and full-hearted movie.
And yet. The film deals with some very heavy-handed themes, such as the Vietnam War, racism, misogyny, and the troublesome ideal of women “entertaining the troops”. The film deftly incorporates all of these elements into the story and treats them seriously, but not so seriously that it detracts from the main goal of the story: to show four amazing young women (and one amazing man) setting out to discover their dreams.
The Sapphires were a real female singing quartet. They are known for singing for U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968. The film tells the tale of three sisters and their cousin who have a knack for singing but must fight institutionalized racism and misogyny because they happen to be Aboriginal females.
They are discovered by a failed musician from Ireland (Chris O’Dowd) who can’t believe how great they sound. He becomes their manager and begins to take them around the region, trying to get bigger and better gigs. Needless to say, there is a lot of rejection and a bit of romance.
The film gets just about everything right. The performances are spot on (O’Dowd is sublime) and the musical numbers never feel forced or corny (imagine that). Though the film is only playing in festivals at the moment, book your seats now when you see it coming to your town. This is going to be the feel-good winner of the year that everyone will be talking about.