The Sapphires (2013 PG-13) is a “based on a true story” movie that bounced around film festivals, then tried to make it in theaters. It’s a comedy with heart that tells about an important part of history!
In the Australian Outback of the 1960’s, three sisters (Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, and Miranda Tapsell) yearn to escape their small town lives by singing for the American soldiers in war-torn Vietnam. The problem is, they are Aborigines. In Australia, that means they are black, and they are treated as second-class citizens. Much like African-Americans were treated at the time in the United States. The other problem is they don’t have a manager to help them update their style and to guide their careers.
The second problem is solved when Dave (Chris O’Dowd), a down-on-his-luck talent scout, hears the girls sing country-western and hears their plan to audition for the US Army, and determines to make them into the Australian version of The Supremes. Can he teach them to sing soul? Can he keep the girls safe in a war zone? Can he stay sober?
The first problem, racism, is an issue for the entire film, as it was for the entire world in 1968. The sister’s light-skinned cousin (Shari Sebbens) is recruited because of her singing abilities.
It’s fun to watch the girls grow and learn a new style of singing.
Once they get to Vietnam, the girls start to shine when they realize they have talent and they are appreciated. There is danger and romance and music and always the issue of racism. Fun movie!
My teenaged-daughters and I loved the movie! Afterwards, I asked them which songs they recognized. “None of them,” they replied. What?!? My daughters have never heard Sugar Pie Honey Bunch, What a Man, or I Heard it Through the Grapevine before? We have neglected their education of great American music! That’s going to change!