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The Sapphires Movie Review


Wayne Blair's "The Sapphires" is quite a good distance from great cinema. What it is is fairly good entertainment, assuming one is able to look past its numerous flaws. When it begins, it tells us that it is based on a true story. Those words always make me smile and sigh because they mean absolutely nothing.


The setting is among the Aborigines in Australia in the 1960s. Four young Aboriginal women are talented singers. Two of them enter a local talent contest among white Australians. They perform a country-western song for whatever reason. They are clearly the most talented, although their competition is so bad that it is comical. They don't win because of discrimination against them. It's a pretty heavy-handed scene, and it serves as the template for what is to come. The entire film is pretty blunt in message.

Dave (Chris O'Dowd) is the emcee and keyboardist for the competition. He is a drinking, wisecracking, underachieving fellow. Afterwards, he somehow hooks up with the girls and ends up managing them and their two friends by convincing them to drop their country music and perform soul music, instead.

The immediate goal for the young women is to go to Vietnam to perform for the U.S. troops, and while Dave thinks it's a bit on the silly side, he somehow manages to make it happen. But first he must mold them to get them ready. He assigns each of them with an identity, actually making up cards and hanging them around their necks, so that they can understand what their role is. That way we get it, too. Saves us from having to think, I suppose.

Of course, they make it to Vietnam where they are loved by all. They are good singers, so it makes sense that they would succeed, especially Julie (Jessica Mauboy). She can flat-out belt a tune with the ability that would blow away anyone on one of our many television talent contests. I don't know her plans but she has a good future as a singing star if that is her choice.

Almost every music scene in "The Sapphires" is very good. Some border on greatness. Unfortunately, as good as the singing scenes are, all of the other moments range from bland to weak. It's all good-hearted and it will definitely serve as an uplifting story because it accomplishes what it sets out to do by making us feel something for the young women. If you can handle being manipulated you might love "The Sapphires". For me, it is only half a gem.

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