Customer Reviews: The Sapphires
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on July 15, 2013
This "gem" of a film is a treasure that's been buried under shallow box-office movies.

"The Sapphires" is not a glitzy Hollywood romp romanticizing the late 1960s. Neither is it a raw shock-value film of the Vietnam crisis. What it is is a gritty story about the conflicts of race issues, betrayal, family conflict, and the loss of innocence. And while the film doesn't shy away from the themes of exploitation, sexuality and confusion, it also doesn't saturate the screen with images to meant to overwhelm the viewer.

The based-on-life story of four sister/cousins (Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell) who boldly belly-up to the auditions for entertainers for the Vietnam Troops is inspiring. The fights between the girls are fast, furious and leave you breathless. The manager (Chris O'Dawd) pushes back with worthwhile pressure. The family dynamics are complicated and real.

The story stays focussed on the issue of the girls and their struggles. The effects are subtle and lend to the story, not overtaking the visuals. The most refreshing part? The actors are not glammed up; they are diamonds-in-the-rough and it's the rough that makes them great. They don't look or sound like Barbie Commercials.

But wait! What about the music? If it's a film about a girl-band...

You won't be disappointed by the cast's ability to belt their pipes worthy of the big-screen. There are 16 songs from the era, including (but not limited to) "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," "What A Man," "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch," "Soul Man," "Today I Started Loving You Again," and "In the Sweet Bye and Bye."

Going to add this film to my home collection. And I am picky with what goes into my home collection.
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on August 7, 2013
Not much more I can contribute to the very shabby treatment the great girls who are the Sapphires receive when it comes to the U.S. dvd cover that previous reviewers haven't already touched on.
I really like Chris Dowd but he is NOT 'the movie' as the dvd cover would strongly infer. I think the cover dismisses the girls as mere 'bit players' or 'backing singers' which is not the case at all. BUY the movie and see why the cover is an injustice to who the girls are, what they achieved and why it's so disrespectful! In Australia we always think that everyone is entitled to a 'fair go' so how about changing that cover eh?
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on July 26, 2013
I refuse to spoil this movie for you, because you should experience it yourself at every level -- and there are many. What I will say is that, if you love American soul music and you hate racism of any kind, you'll like this film. Inspired by a true story, three aboriginal sisters and a cousin set out on the journey of their lives accompanied by the aspiring group's white "Soul Brother" manager. Their "dream" is to sing for the U.S. troops in Vietnam during the war.

This movie is both heart-warming and heart-wrenching! Sometimes, you'll laugh and, sometimes, you'll want to cry -- in between which you'll probably sing and dance. The power of music and the power of love mix here for a very "soulful" experience.
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Remember 1968? LBJ is President, Vietnam is still a war zone, North Korea captures the USS Pueblo, and in Australia, it is still legal to remove light-skinned Aboriginal children from their homes, and place them in institutions to teach them the white man's ways. (A practice which was outlawed in 1969/70, this controversial issue is also addressed in both "Australia" and "Rabbit-Proof Fence.")

We are in a remote outpost in Australia. Three girls perform for an itinerant talent scout, played by Chris O'Dowd ("Bridesmaids"). They sing a Merle Haggard song and he joins in on his electronic keyboard, adding some Floyd Kramer piano stylings. He offers them the chance to audition for a USO tour to Southeast Asia to entertain the troops. As soon as they arrive in the city, they look up a former playmate who had been captured and raised by whites.

After an initial culture gap during which the four of them must become re-acquainted AND learn Soul (their new manager knows their audience won't expect Country/Western from a girl group that looks like The Supremes), they are booked and head off for Vietnam.

Based on a popular play by Tony Briggs, whose mother was one of the original "Sapphires," this satisfying sample of the sixties is great on many levels: O'Dowd is very good; each girl has her own distinct personality, issues, and career arc; while the clothes, news, and problems of the times are faithfully portrayed. I loved the big hair, the go-go boots and the Tupperware.

We see what a dangerous challenge a USO tour might become. It's fun to watch as our gals develop stage presence, refine their music and become at ease in the spotlight. In a very welcome postscript, we learn what each young woman achieved after mastering these important skills.

This film festival favorite is playing in art houses so you may not see it in your local multiplex; in that case, watch for the DVD. participants will be notified when it is available. (NOTE: Closed Captions on my DVD from Amazon will be welcome!)
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on November 4, 2013
"What a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man" ... This movie is undeniably harmonious with its dynamite cast and blend of powerful music. It teaches a harsh history lesson and supplies a necessary breakout punch of female ambition. In a war torn 1968, the soul singing Sapphires took the stage ...

The story of this all-girl singing group, originally named "The Cummeragunja Reserve Songbirds", starts way back in their childhood. They were brought up to be fighters while singing away their cruel and unfair sorrows. Starting from a place of complete segregation onto the church missions or the Aboriginal reserves, they had little opportunity for flight. These sisters and cousins get it all together to the tune of 'Yellow Bird' then discover their opportunity to fly away during a music contest in town. They have always had the talent, although now need the person to take them there. It is here where they meet Dave Lovelace (Chris O'Dowd - "Pirate Radio", "Bridesmaids") who immediately takes notice of their obvious talent.

Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy), and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) add their cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens) and are off to perform for the troops in Vietnam along with their new manager, Dave. What is immediately clear in comparison to other movies about singing groups (especially women's) is that this one has a certain gritty edge and a welcomed unpolished shine. These women are real. Realistic looking, sounding, inter-relational, and overall they are extremely endearing. They overcome great hardship to find their soulful voice in history. One that was personally amazing for me to discover.

Director Wayne Blair, along with writers Tony Briggs (son of real-life Julie) and Keith Thompson, brings a highly relatable story to life. A standout and stand-up soundtrack, along with original music composed by Cezary Skubiszewski, deliver song after song that speak to your heart. "These Arms of Mine", "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie-Honey Bunch) "Hold On, I'm Coming", "What a Man", and "I'll Take You There" are only a few of many that make this film - Move.

The women who inspired this highly enlightening story all went on to bright futures for the Aboriginal cause, "In the Sweet Bye and Bye".
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on April 1, 2016
Ridiculously good movie. I can't believe I'd never heard of it before seeing a random preview on another Netflix title, it's so incredibly powerful and moving and the acting and the singing in it are just so darn good. Blows DREAMGIRLS completely out of the water, in my opinion. More people need to see this fantastic movie!!!!!!!
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on December 19, 2015
A perfect film in so many ways. The acting is superb. The music is wonderful, the story is inspiring and heartwarming and the cinematography is tops. I have watched this movie many times because it is so uplifting. it makes my feet tap and I want to sing along. I also learned so much about the plight of the First Australians and the "Stolen Generation".. Thanks to people like the young women that this film is about and so many others who worked for the rights of all people, we are blessed with performances from wonderful aboriginal actresses and actors like those in this film, now. It is hard to believe that none of these girls had ever acted before. Also, Chris O'Dowd brings his great comedic skills to this movie and keeps it light. The story is true and was written by the son of one of the women that the film is about. What a loving tribute from a son to his courageous and determined Mom and Aunts. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who loves music and stories about people who show great courage.
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on September 27, 2013
I read about this movie a while ago (big Chris O'Dowd fans/The IT Crowd) and was excited to see it was finally available to rent on Amazon. We had the best time enjoying this film! We laughed, (I) cried, the music was wonderful, the story was moving, the acting was fantastic. This movie is so fresh and new--not at all like the cookie cutter stuff we keep seeing churned out of Hollywood. You'll be so glad you watched it. Nothing really raunchy, vulgar or shocking--the film didn't need to resort to that because the story was strong and compelling, the characters were well developed, the acting was very good (so great to see new faces and not the same "stars" that are in every other movie). Perfect movie for a date night at home or a large group of friends. I highly recommend it.
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on January 17, 2015
Chris O'Dowd (British TV's "Family Tree" and "The IT Crowd," who looks like a young David Arquette) is a refreshing surprise as "Dave Lovelace" (though we first see him sleeping in his car), the newly hired manager of "The Sapphires" quartet, four Australian Aboriginal young ladies, three sisters and one cousin (Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, and Miranda Tapsell), loosely based on a true story and set in 1968, the height of the Vietnam War and of the segregational turmoil in Australia among the Aborigines. They're discovered by Dave while singing, of all things, country and western in a small contest, but he explains that they must convert to soul music, the most popular at that time, if they want to perform for Vietnam troops. Dave uses his self-proclaimed clout to get them an audition in Melbourne, but can they trust a man they've never met? Can they trust each other? Even with a bit too much kitsch, as well as the relationship between "Gail" (Mailman) and her cousin "Kay" (Sebbens) unnecessarily over-dramatized, the real centerpiece here is the appeasing 60's music, by way of "The Sapphires," as a remedy for the concomitant detrimental effects of war and racism...and it's the music that triumphs!
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on December 11, 2015
This is a hilarious movie about Afro Austrelians becoming singing group in Vietnam during the Vietnam war.
All four female actors have their own colors and they are really shined. And also Chris O'Dowd is rockin!
The music they are singing is really good. Most of them are R&B and they are well known.
Also there is Vietnam war involved which makes the movie more interested.
First, I had no idea how the movie will go.
Then from the beginning, I knew that the movie will be great right away.
From the entire running time, I felt so good watching the film.
It is a must see if you like this kind of music. Also anyone who likes music will enjoy perhaps.
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