The Sapphires Review: Great story, great music but lacks guts | SWITCH.
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By Jess Fenton
5th August 2012

It’s 1968: a war is raging a world away, while music rages within the souls of three sisters of a remote Aboriginal mission who dream of being on stage. The girls have a chance run-in with Irish muso Dave Lovelace (Chris O’Dowd) who teaches them the ways of soul music and ushers them towards an opportunity to sing for the troops over in Vietnam. Along the way, the girls have to pick up their cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens) to join the group. Years ago Kay was taken from the mission to “breed the black out” and has since abandoned her Aboriginal heritage, causing some major tension between herself and eldest sister Gail (Deborah Mailman). Putting their issues aside, the four girls with Dave in tow head to Saigon and embark on a tour of the Mekong Delta, entertaining troops, falling in love, dodging bullets and discovering themselves along the way.


While a terrific and engaging story complete with a fantastic and energetic soundtrack, it’s O’Dowd’s presence that breathes life into each scene, and the film as a whole is hiccuped only by the severe lack of chemistry between him and on-screen partner Deborah Mailman. However each of the four girls are wonderful in their own right, with Australian Idol alum Jessica Mauboy once again showcasing her beautiful powerhouse voice and dominating the music numbers, now for the second time on the big screen.

The script errs on the clunky side and is at times cringeworthily too Australian, but there are plenty of genuine laughs and emotional points to distract you and keep the ball rolling.

Issues such as racism, the stolen generation, war and race aren't given the pages they deserve; rather, the story favours love stories, pop songs, shiny dresses and the vocal prowess of Mauboy. It’s this that leaves the finishes product without the guts it needs and deserves.

It's an enjoyable ride nonetheless, with a great soundtrack to fill the journey. It’s fun and silly with plenty of heart thrown in.

RELEASE DATE: 09/08/2012
RUN TIME: 01h 43m
CAST: Chris O'Dowd
Deborah Mailman
Jessica Mauboy
Shari Sebbens
Miranda Tapsell
DIRECTOR: Wayne Blair
WRITERS: Keith Thompson
Tony Briggs
PRODUCERS: Rosemary Blight
Kylie Du Fresne
Gordon Westman
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