The Sapphires: Heart and Soul in All the Right Spots ***

The Sapphires, a comedy and drama with a knockout musical soundtrack tells us the real-life story of a group of women from Australia in the 1960’s.  Based on the stage play of the same name written by Tony Briggs (the real life son of one of the real-life characters), the Sapphires are four talented young female singers, whom are subject to the constraints, bigotry and prejudice that dominates Australia.  The parallels to America at-the-time are not missed and in fact are referenced.  However, the Sapphires is not a dark depressing film and much like the characters powers through an uncomfortable topic and aspect of society with great spirit and soul.  There may be an argument for saying the film treads too lightly on some of the tougher topics, but that is not the point of the film.

Chris ODowd (Bridesmaids, This Is 40) is good as the loveable, but competency challenged manager who genuinely cares for and encourages the girls to improve their lot in life.  The four female leads are a complete breath of fresh air.  They are actually Australian, naturally beautiful, but do not appear to have have been run through the Hollywood gristmill of surgical augmentation, personal body trainers and the like. ODowd and the girls perform the singing.  Jessica Mauboy as Julie, has a commanding voice.  Debra Mailman as Gail, has all the skill and talent to play the films most demanding role.

As for the films soundtrack?  If you grew up liking the 1960’s sound of soul/gospel that crossed over to take control of and top the popular music charts – you are in for a treat.  The sound is genuine and true to the originals – except that the advances engineering and mixing of the 21st century are applied – to our full benefit.

It should be noted that Production Design (Melinda Doring), Art Direction (Janie Parker), Sets (Glen Johnson) and Costumes (Tess Schofield) are wonderful and similar to the music – worth the trip to the theater alone.

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