San Diego Film Festival 2012 — The Sapphires

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Goalpost Pictures

Director: Wayne Blair

Review Rating: 7

Website: The Sapphires

Four young Australian Aborigine girls and their manager brave the war in Vietnam to bring music to the troops, and learn about life along the way!

The year is 1968, and there is all sorts of uprisings, over the war with Vietnam, political and social unrest, revolution in the streets. Over in Australia, where there is both an indigenous population of white and black folk, there are now children of these mixed raced unions, unwanted and overlooked by most everyone. Three girls want very much to sing and be known and get the hell out of their forced compound, hell, out of Australia period. One disastrous audition amongst prim-lipped whites later, and the girls find themselves with a drunken manager, pick up a 4th member cousin who happens to look whiter than the rest of them, and grasp an audition for a club in Saigon. After much much work and practice and refinement, of course the girls nail the audition and begin performing in the rather sleazy club, while working up to audition to perform for the troops in Vietnam, the ultimate. Despite, or perhaps because of, the straight-laced very black woman at the military audition, the girls shine out like diamonds, and because noone can pronounce their chosen name, on a spur of the moment decision, the girls get their famous name – The Sapphires.

So off the girls troop to Viet Nam, where they’re received by the boys fighting the war with open loving arms. They encounter racism in whole new ways, learn life lessons about eachother, and let their straining spirits find wings in soul music. After making most of the journey with a military escort, because of a screwup on manager Dave’s part, The Sapphires find themselves trying to get to the big-big venue on their own, without band or aid or even weapons. Even making it to the gig and bringing down the house, neither the girls nor Dave could have predicted the base would get attacked right after that. Having found love of many different varities – of the heart, of the career, of your ancestors even – the girls struggle to hold on to that love, as they’re evacuated from the war zone.

The film rather reminded me of the Tina Turner biography movie, What’s Love Got To Do With It, especially the wonderful music. Uplifting and heartwarming, The Sapphires is a darling movie about family values, the power of heart in song, and the will to follow your dreams no matter where they lead you.

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