TRUE to its name, The Sapphires is a true gem.
Adapted by Keith Thompson and Tony Briggs from the stage show of the same name, the film combines brilliant performances, soaring music, social comment, humour and heart.
From a Murray River Aboriginal mission to Vietnam, The Sapphires tales the true tale of four Koori songbird who in 1968 are flown to the war-zones of South Vietnam to perform for the American troops.
Part coming of age story, part love story, part social commentary, part triumph over adversity, it is a thoughtful layered film that is big on storytelling rather than shouting from a soapbox.
The Stolen Generation and subsequent discrimination is covered with sensitivity and poignancy.
While the film explores the obstacles Indigenous women experienced during 1968 Australia, the leading women are never painted as victims, but rather empowered, bold heroes.
The film is not afraid to tackle the serious issues and while there are some moments that pack a severe emotional punch the overall tone remains celebratory, positive and upbeat.
Director Wayne Blair injects the film with an infectious energy and the soul classics are stunningly presented vocally and visually with dazzling costumes.
The musical numbers are structured around the story line rather than the other way around making it a movie about music rather than a musical itself.
Performances across the board are spectacular. All the girls sparkle, Miranda Tapsell is a bawdy riot all brassness and bold attitude while Deborah Mailman gives a brilliantly layered performance that is bossy and ball-breaking but infused with almost a sense of child-like vulnerability.
Jessica Mauboy gives a goosebump producing performance, and Shari Sebbens delivers a powerhouse of emotions.
But is it is IT Crowd and Bridemaids' Chris 0'Dowd who ties it all together with a beautiful darkness and grit but also an infectious humour.
Heartfelt, feel-food, fun, fearless, The Sapphires sparkles and shines.
- Stars: Chris O'Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell
- Director: Wayne Blair
- Rated: PG
- Verdict: Four stars
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