The Sapphires (PG)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner09/11/2012

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 103 mins

Hugely entertaining, sparkily directed feelgood Australian drama with a superb script, delightful musical numbers and outstanding performances from the entire cast.

What's it all about?
Directed by Wayne Blair, The Sapphires is based on both a remarkable true story and a hit stage musical. Set in 1968 Australia, the film stars Chris O'Dowd as drunken Irish talent scout Dave Lovelace, who discovers an all-girl Aboriginal group – sisters Gail (Deborah Mailman), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) and Julie (Australian Idol star Jessica Mauboy) - calling themselves the Cummeragunja Song Birds.

After recruiting their white cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens), Dave persuades the group to rename themselves The Sapphires and ditch country and western in favour of soul songs, before taking them on a tour to entertain US troops in Vietnam.

The Good
Chris O'Dowd (thankfully permitted to use his own accent, since his character is Australian in the musical) is terrific as Dave, sparking strong chemistry with the girls and delivering a performance that is both charming and laugh-out-loud funny, courtesy of his killer comic timing. Deborah Mailman and Jessica Mauboy are equally good, while Miranda Tapsell and Shari Sebbens both get their own chances to shine in romantic sub-plots, with Tapsell also nabbing all the best one-liners not already bagged by O'Dowd.

The script is excellent, combining toe-tapping musical numbers, colourful humour and powerfully emotional moments, while also making a strong political point and successfully aligning the treatment of aborigines with the US Civil Rights movement, thanks to some astute editing. On top of that, the musical numbers themselves are brilliantly performed; indeed, this is very much the sort of film that sends you straight out to buy the soundtrack afterwards.

The Great
Blair's control of the material is extremely impressive, maintaining the perfect balance of tone throughout. He also orchestrates a number of thoroughly enjoyable sequences, particularly the rehearsal scenes and Dave delivering an impassioned speech to the girls about what soul music means to the dispossessed (a speech that deliberately evokes Alan Parker's wonderful The Commitments).

Worth seeing?
The Sapphires is a hugely enjoyable feelgood drama with a superb soundtrack, a strong script, and wonderful performances from O'Dowd and all four girls. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

The Sapphires (PG)
The Sapphires has been reviewed by 1 users
image
01 The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (tbc)

Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, ...

image
02 The Theory of Everything (tbc)

Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Emily Watson

image
03 Pride (15)

Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Imelda Sta...

image
04 What We Did on Our Holidays (12A)

David Tennant, Billy Connolly, Rosamund Pike, Anne...

image
05 The Guest (15)

Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Ethan Embry

Content updated: 02/09/2014 19:54

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Night Moves Film Review

Engaging and provocative, this is a fiercely introspective thriller from writer-director Kelly Reichardt, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films

Hot Tickets

Film 4 Summer ScreenFilm 4 Summer Screen

Taking over the big screen at Somerset House again for August 2014, the Film 4 Summer Screen series brings a variety of classics and brand new films to audiences in the capital.