So I have an odd relationship with Australian cinema, I just don’t watch it all that often. It seems like all the notiable films are either about how depressing life is or about crime/murder. Now sure I loved Snowtown and Animal Kingdom, films that were far from pleasant to watch but I just can’t sit through these types of films all that often. What happened to the films like Strictly Ballroom? We just don’t seem to get anything like that anymore, however this year something changed and we did get a film like that with The Sapphires.
Last year the darling of Australian cinema was Red Dog, a film that didn’t fit the mold of depressing or about a crime. I didn’t get around to seeing it but for some reason The Sapphires just screamed for me to watch it. I finally managed to catch it now it is available to buy and rent, I was upset I missed it theatrically and after watching it I am more upset I missed that chance because this film was fantastic. It mixed together musical, comedy and drama really well and the cast were perfectly suited to their roles.
The film takes place in 1960’s Australia, where four young Aboriginal girls Gail (Deborah Mailman), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell), Julie (Jessica Mauboy) and Kay (Shari Sebbens) decide to form a singing group, led by manager Irishman Dave (Chris O’Dowd). He gives them soul music to sing, and they get accepted to sing for the troops in Vietnam.
This feels Australian, and it has that magic feel good touch. It is also based upon four real women, and that really just makes it even more special. Their story is being told in some way, and it’s good to see something like this. It’s an honest film; it doesn’t shy away from talking about ‘stolen children’ or racism. These elements are very much there, and not only do these girls have to deal with these things; they also have to deal with each other. They are four clashing personalities that spark magic when they sing and spark fire off the stage.
The film follows them as they try to form the group and go to Vietnam and the troubles they face there. The group is led by Deborah Mailman, the absolute darling of Australian entertainment, is there anything this woman cannot do? I’ve been a fan of hers for as long as I can remember, and this role was one of her best performances. She brought so much to Gail, and it’s fantastic to see her back in a film again after a television stint with Offspring. Jessica Mauboy who was my girl from Australian Idol shows that there is more to her than that powerhouse voice, the girl can act. I loved her here, she certainly brought a lot of passion and it was great. I loved Miranda Tapsell; she was so much fun and this woman needs to be a huge star. Shari Sebbens was really good as Kay, the cousin who was taken away; I felt she brought an interesting dynamic to the group. Chris O’Dowd who most will remember from Bridesmaids was fantastic here, he’s funny and charming and I loved his insane passion for music. His character was great and I think his abilities really elevated it to something special.
The Sapphires is great Australian cinema, we get a good story, amazing actors with stunning performances and music that made me jump out of my seat and sing to. I do enjoy my feel good films, and this was one of the best I have seen recently. I want to think of films like this when I think of my country, and not how depressing and awful life is. Well done to everyone on this film, I had a blast and I honestly can’t wait to watch it again.