Gem Of The Nation
The Sapphires opens in cinemas nationally today (Thursday, 9 Aug.) and after a 10-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, rave reviews are coming in just as loudly as Jessica Mauboy’s strong and sassy voice.
Set in 1968 and inspired by a true story (the film’s writer Tony Briggs’ mum and aunty were part of the singing quartet), the movie follows the all-girl group’s entertaining journey from a remote Aboriginal community to war-torn Vietnam. There they entertain the troops, fall in love, experience tragedy and reconcile old wounds. The film touches on Australia’s troubled history including racism and the Stolen Generation, perhaps offering younger audiences a new-found understanding.
Starring Mauboy (of Australian Idol fame), the well-known and loved Deborah Mailman, and newcomers Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell, the songbirds are taken from old school country crooners and turned into powerhouse soul sisters by an Irish has-been talent scout (played by Chris O’Dowd from comedy hit, Bridesmaids).
If you didn’t know the power of Mauboy’s voice, be prepared to be blown away! It’s impossible to sit still in this movie as she belts out classic hits like "I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" and "Who’s Loving You." In a case of life imitating art, Mauboy has come a long way from the girl who once auditioned in Alice Springs.
It’s not just about Mauboy though, Mailman is brilliant in her role as the "mother hen" of the group. This role was made for her, showcasing her strength, beauty and, when allowed, glimpses of a tender heart. O’Dowd holds his own as well, as he has you falling for him all over again, offering just the right amount of awkwardness while selling the hopeless romantic.
The entire cast will pull you into the film with the love and hate of sisterly bonds, as well as the clever moments of comedy throughout. You’re either going to walk out with sore cheeks from smiling or sore shoulders from shaking along to the groove!
The Sapphires is playing in cinemas now and is rated PG.
*As Deborah Mailman’s character, Gail, explains, "deadly is when something is good."