Combustible Celluloid
Get the Poster
Own it:
Search for streaming:
NetflixHuluGoogle PlayGooglePlayCan I
With: Chris O'Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell, Tory Kittles, Eka Darville, Lynette Narkle, Kylie Belling, Gregory J. Fryer, Don Battee, T.J. Power
Written by: Tony Briggs, Keith Thompson
Directed by: Wayne Blair
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexuality, a scene of war violence, some language, thematic elements and smoking
Running Time: 103
Date: 28/03/2013

The Sapphires (2013)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Soul Searching

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Co-written by Tony Briggs, who is the son of one of the real-life Sapphires, The Sapphires is beautifully cast and has great music, as well as a terrific true story at its core. Unfortunately, it has been turned into a routine and uninspiring movie, following a tired, old formula the entire way. It feels far more like a story you've heard before than anything that might actually have happened in real life.

In 1968 Australia, a trio of talented, passionate singing Aboriginal sisters enters a talent show, where a jaded, keyboard playing master of ceremonies, Dave Lovelace (Chris O'Dowd), discovers them. The girls decide to audition for a paid gig as entertainers for the soldiers in Vietnam, and they ask Dave to come along. This requires them to track down a lost cousin, Kay (Shari Sebbens), who was taken as a child and integrated into white culture. Kay joins the group, but tension between her and group leader Gail (Deborah Mailman) begins to escalate. Further tension grows when Dave falls in love with Gail. Can the entertainers learn to get along before something terrible happens to them in Vietnam?

At one point, the Dave Lovelace character explains how soul music is about loss and fighting to hang on. At another point, he hangs signs on the four singers with labels like "the sexy one" and "the dance captain." To put it simply, the movie is definitely more about signs like those than about loss or fighting or hanging on. It knows exactly where to put songs, montages, dramatic interruptions, and cheerful celebrations, each of which are designed to push an audience's buttons on cue. It's too bad the movie couldn't have gotten more in touch with its own soul.