Rather than exposing myself to wonder and beauty of the outside world, I decided yet again today to give into the demotivating effects of a long day at work and work up another entry edition of Rorschach on DVD. One of the perks of working in the DVD division of Amazon.com is that I now get to sort through the leftover bits of complimentary inventory sent to our department by vendors. For the most part, these consist of the sort of Netflix filler material that makes Uwe Boll seem like a seasoned professional. Every now and then, though, a diamond shines through the rough and I get a chance to call dibs. Today, that diamond comes in the form of a little Australian movie that passed under the radar of a disappointing majority of American audiences; The Sapphires. It may lean heavily on various inspirational movie tropes, but strong characters and an impressive amount of musical talent in the cast make The Sapphires one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen all year.
Like this April’s Jackie Robinson biopic 42 earlier this year, The Sapphires features characters fighting back against forces of societal oppression with pure, undeniable talent. The way the each film handles those forces is very different, however. Whereas Robinson stands in defiance of the discrimination of his time, The Sapphires are merely trying to endure it along with the division that it has created among them. Because of this, the focus of the film falls much more on the characters themselves rather than any sort of crusade against racial injustice. Luckily, those characters are so strongly written and naturally performed they are able to carry the rest of the film without any need for heightened stakes.
While Chris O’Dowd receives top billing status on all of the promotional material, he is only a small part of what makes the movie such a joy to watch. The rest is taken up by The Sapphires themselves; Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy), Kay (Shari Sebbens), and Cynthia (Miranga Tapsell). With exception of Mailman, the four actresses above had very little acting experience between them prior to this film, but you’d hardly know it based on their performances here. Admittedly, I’m much more willing to buy into any line said with a British, Irish, Scottish or Australian accent, but even without that boost I thought that all four did a great job of adding life to their already strongly developed characters. As a final note, the music in the film is absolutely fantastic, with all five leads (yes, even O’Dowd has a few moments in the spotlight) showing off some of the most impressive singing I’ve seen in any film for quite some time.
The Verdict: 8.0/10 – Pretty Damn Great
+ Strongly written characters with distinct, well-developed personalities
+ An infectious level of joy fueled by some great performances from the five leads
+ An amazing soundtrack with some great motown covers by the cast
– An extremely conventional story line that offers few surprises for viewers
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fast Film Reviews: 4/5
… Seriously, more people need to see this