Sapphires, The: Wayne Blair’s Tale of All-Girl Group Entertaining American Troops in Vietnam

Inspired by a true story, The Sapphires is a musical feature about a little known subject, which is appealing and entertaining, despite some dramatic flaws and undernourished production values.

Too bad that the film’s tone is so conventional and the approach so simple, as it could have been a much better picture, considering the original, little known subject matter. Even so, the film’s soul music is great and it central quartet of women really charming, compensating for the other shortcomings.

I caught a public screening of “The Sapphires” at the Cannes Film Fest, in May, where the movie world-premiered. Judging by that rousing screening, with audiences cheering during and after the film, the Weinstein Company should do reasonably well when it’s released in the U.S. March 22, in a platform mode.

A good deal of the joy derives from the feature’s vivacious characters, four young and talented Australian Aboriginal girls from a remote mission, who embark on a journey, during which they learn about love, friendship and war.

Main tale, which is vibrantly directed by Wayne Blair, concerns how this all-girl group, aptly named The Sapphires, entertains the U.S. troops during the Vietnam War, in 1968.

Though “The Sapphires” is very much a collective portrait of the group’s remarkable endeavor, we do get to know the four players, Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell), Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie, (Jessica Mauboy) and Kay (Shari Sebbens), each boasting an individualistic personality and style that somehow mesh well into their collective effort.

They are discovered by Dave Lovelace (Chris O’Dowd), a good-humored talent scout with a kind and generous heart, lacking any sense rhythm (to say the least), but possessing great knowledge of and love for soul music. As their manager, Dave books the sisters their first true gig, giving them the first taste of stardom, and later travels them to Vietnam to sing for the American troops, which are very much in need for fun and diversion.


Running time: 99 Minutes.
Directed by Wayne Blair
Produced by Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne
Screenplay:Tony Briggs and Keith Thompson, based on the stageplay of the same title by Briggs.
Released in theaters: March 22, 2013.