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:: The Sapphires

Red Dog started the ball rolling now it seems that other filmmakers have realised that not all Australian films have to be about dark, depressing topics. Certainly director, Wayne Blair has realised that as his feature film directional debut, The Sapphires is an uplifting tale that is guaranteed to please any audience. Based on real events The Sapphires is about three Aboriginal sisters, Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy) and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) who dream about escaping the Aboriginal mission they call home and making it big as singers.

The dream seems fair fetched as they live in a racist outback town but when failed musician Dave (Chris O’Dowd he decides to manage them, patch up differences with their cousin, Kay (Shari Sebbens) and then help them win a competition that will see them perform for the troops in Vietnam.

Thanks to a brilliant screenplay The Sapphires is able to provide the audience with a variety of comedy, drama and music. The film does go into some pretty deep subjects such as racism and tribal acceptance yet never once do you feel that the message is completely in your face. With The Sapphires Wayne Blair also announces himself as one of Australia’s most promising directors. Together with cinematographer Warwick Thornton (who directed the brilliant Samson & Delilah) he makes this film look stunning on the big screen. Credit must be paid to both of them for making the Vietnam war scenes look so realistic despite a small budget.

The film does have some flaws, at times the story and some of the acting verge on being weak, but this is largely overshadowed by an amazing soundtrack and some brilliant performances by the films leads. Deborah Mailman again shows why she is one of Australia’s finest actors while Chris O’Dowd mixes comedy and drama together brilliantly in what is the best performance of his career so far. They are also well supported by Jessica Mauboy who is beginning to show that she is a talented actress as well as an amazing singer.

The Sapphires is an amazing film that works on all levels. The fact that it mixes music, drama and comedy together so well makes it an absolute gem.