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1968 was the year that changed the world. And for four young Aboriginal sisters from a remote mission this is the year that would change their lives forever. Around the globe, there was protest and revolution in the streets. Indigenous Australians finally secured the right to vote. There were drugs and the shock of a brutal assassination. And there was Vietnam. The sisters, Cynthia, Gail, Julie and Kay are discovered by Dave, a talent scout with a kind heart, very little rhythm but a great knowledge of soul music. Billed as Australia's answer to 'The Supremes', Dave secures the sisters their first true gig, and flies them to Vietnam to sing for the American troops. Based on a true story, THE SAPPHIRES is a triumphant celebration of youthful emotion, family and music. Written by
First and foremost, it's important to say that this is a drama, and the comedy and music are secondary. An enormous relief, in a film that needed to tell a story, and not turn the experiences of the four girls, and their manager, in to a musical.
'The Sapphires' tells a uniquely Australian story of four Aboriginal girls who overcame the prejudice of the 60s to find themselves sent off to Vietnam to entertain the troops, along with their charismatic, but occasionally inept, manager (Chris O'Dowd). There's a decent ensemble cast, with exceptional performances from Deborah Mailman and Shari Sebbens.
The film is uplifting, gently deals with some big issues that faced Aborigines and is entertaining to just about anyone. Some criticism of the film was that it underplayed both the Vietnam War itself, and a couple of related events (easily spotted in the film), however I disagree. The film was busy drawing together the strands of storyline concerning the girls. To have emphasised any further the war, or any particular event, could only have detracted from the audience's appreciation of the other characters.
Highly recommended for just about anyone. Non-Australians will be introduced to a little of Aboriginal culture and their struggle for equality, as well as a ripper movie that's fun and funny; Australians will be glad to see a rare story of Aboriginal triumph in the 20th century.
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