The Sapphires (DVD)

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The Sapphires (DVD)

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Review of "The Sapphires (DVD)"

published 16/01/2016 | thedevilinme
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Pro Good fun
Cons Plot holes galore
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"Good fun!"

The Sapphires (DVD)

The Sapphires (DVD)

Star – Chris O’ Dowell
Genre – Comedy
Run Time – 103 minutes
Certificate – PG13
Country – Australia
Awards – 25 Wins & 25 Nominations
Amazon – £4.02 DVD £9.99 Blue Ray
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So The Sapphires, the music biopic comedy that swept the board at the 2012 Australian Oscars. It’s loosely based on the true story of an Aboriginal girl bebop soul group in the 1960s called The Sapphires although only had three members not four as depicted in the film. As in the movie they were invited to tour a show for the American troops in Vietnam but two of the group declined due to their anti-war stance, so the remaining Sapphire drafted in her sister to help her out. That is not where this movie goes. The project has family authenticity in that the co-writer and associate producer Tony Briggs is the son of Laurel Robinson, a member of the real-life group, and has an aboriginal cast and director (Wayne Blair).

Aboriginals in Australia have a bad rep for booze and laziness and the least successful race in the western world. Things got so bad in the early 20th century that British had to physically drag the children to the cities to be educated so the next generation wasn’t even worse off. It was controversial and cruel to say the least. The small gene pool didn’t help their physical look and suffered many genetic illnesses. But they found four gorgeous girls that could sing like angels in the 1960s and so here we are for this enjoyable movie. The girls that are cast are even worse looking and somewhat chubby and an example of that gene pool collapse. ‘You’re marrying the cousin and that’s the end of it!’ That intrinsic racism towards Australia’s black population caused considerable controversy in the now sensitive Australia as the North America DVD cover poster for the film shows the star Chris O'Dowd (IT Crowd) front and center with the Aboriginal girls as white silhouettes in the background.


• Chris O'Dowd as Dave Lovelace
• Deborah Mailman as Gail
• Tanika Lonesborough as Young Gail
• Jessica Mauboy as Julie
• Miah Madden as Young Julie
• Shari Sebbens as Kay
• Nioka Brennan as Young Kay
• Miranda Tapsell as Cynthia
• Ava Jean Miller-Porter as Young Cynthia
• Don Battee as Myron
• Tory Kittles as Robby
• Eka Darville as Hendo
• Kylie Belling as Geraldine
• Judith Lucy as Merle
• Georgina Haig as Glynis
• Rhys Muldoon as Uncle Ed


It’s the 1960s…

General musician/talent scout/compare and boozer ‘Dave Lovelace’ (Chris O'Dowd) tours small Australian towns hosting talent shows in pubs, clubs and church halls with $10 bucks to the winner. In one particular small town, ‘Abo’ country duo Gail (Deborah Mailman) and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) pitch up and steal the show, joined by their little sister Julie (Jessica Mauboy) on stage after being forbidden to go by mom. The racist white judges pick a local white singer to win but Lovelace suitably impressed to listen to their plan to take up a newspaper opportunity to apply for a job in Vietnam entertaining the troops. Lovelace gives them a lift home to mom and dad and persuades the family to let him manage them. If he can train them up in American soul music style and tempo they may get through the audition and on the plane. The final member of the band is cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens), a lighter skin Aboriginal who was taken away from her parents in the 1950s and to the city by the whites back in the day and now educated and living in Melbourne, where the audition is.


Lovelace – ‘……..Before we go than, girls when I met you, you were doing all country and western thing and that's fine we all make mistakes. But here is what we learn from that mistake. Country and western music is about loss. Soul music is also about loss. But the difference is in country and western music, they've lost, they've given up and they are just all wining about it. In soul music they are struggling to get it back, they haven't given up…..’.

The family eventually agrees and The Sapphires win through to get the gig, arriving in Hanoi at the height of the war. And after another audition against more acts the hit the road with a military escort of grateful soldiers. Fun is had by all and Lovelace hits the booze and cards again. But there are tensions with the girls, Gail having history with Kay, Lovelace unable to control Gail. But they are popular and the troops loving it as they party with the boys and enjoy their non judgmental freedom, the back GIs also suffering a racial rejection of sorts as their streets burn both back in America and Hanoi.


With its gentle comment on race and bigotry we don’t linger on that too much as the girl’s belt out the tunes and chat up the black GIs. This is feel good family movie and not interesting in making a deeper film. O’Dowd is a revelation in the lead, funny, charming and able to hold his own as the male lead. The girls are not that sexually appealing on screen and a fag end away from having mustaches on screen. For some reason the film producers don’t cast hot women in the lead roles as the Sapphires. The real band was gorgeous. Like I said, maybe they are just not out there with the right level of looks and acting talent. Anyone who has been to Oz will understand my comments.

There are plot holes but it’s not that type of film to pull them up on it. You want the girls to burst out of small town Australia (it hasn’t changed mind you) like their voice on the stage and enjoy their emancipation away from the bigots, grog and didgeridoos. The songs and stage scenes are uplifting and a nice feel to the movie. There is some jeopardy but that and the politics is really just background for the sassy chemistry between the girls and O’Dowd. It races along and you never feel pushed back from the movie because of its mixed themes around race and war. Its just one of those film genres the Aussie do well. It didn’t do great box office for its $10 million budget and all the incestuous awards but $20 million back is good business for Australian film. One to watch for a good family film night.

RATINGS – 7.0/10.0 (10,564votes) – 91% critic’s approval – 67% critic’s approval
Leonard Maltin’s 2015 – 3/4

Special Features



Globe & Mail –‘You could drive an Abrams tank through the film's plot holes, but you'll likely be too busy enjoying yourself to bother’.

Toronto Star –‘Sapphires is hardly a cinematic diamond mine. But this Commitments-style mashup of music and melodrama manages to entertain without demanding too much of its audience’.

New York Daily News –‘This charming Australian import has a groove much like other low-key, let's-put-on-a-show indies such as Hear My Song and The Commitments, and never uses its social conscience as simply backbeat’.

Salt Lake Tribune –‘A heavy-handed anti-racism message isn't easier to take when played to a Motown beat, though the Australian comedy-drama The Sapphires acts otherwise’.

Vue Weekley –‘Tries to dazzle itself but the shine comes off quickly, as this weakly structured story flees at the sight of any lingering dramatic conflict, preferring to turn history into a pleasant song-and-dance routine’.

The Patriot Ledger –‘The mood is so charming and the music so inspiring that you continually cut it a break’.

Film Threat –‘
By-the-numbers in every sense of the word, the film tracks a tried-and-true sort of triumph while featuring renditions of soul classics so bursting with energy and joy you won't care that the originality meter is leaning on empty’.

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Comments on this review

  • catsholiday published 10/09/2017
    Just written my piece on this film!
  • hiker published 08/03/2016
    Interesting storyline
  • Secre published 18/01/2016
    Nicely done!
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Product Information : The Sapphires (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Sub Sub Genre: Soul

DVD Region: DVD

Production Year: 2012

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Actor(s) (Last name, First name): Chris O'Dowd

Title: T

Director(s) (Last name, First name): Wayne Blair

EAN: 5030305516819


Listed on Ciao since: 25/02/2014