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The Sapphires : Aboriginal Soul

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The Sapphires


The Sapphires was one of the films featured at Sun Valley Film Festival that I missed. It’s nice to be able to see it at The Flicks here in Boise a little over a month after the film festival. Thank god for art house theaters. Thank god we have one in Boise. But shouldn’t one of the purposes of a film festival be that you are going to see at least some movies that you may never see anywhere else, including Netflix? Well that’s a story for some other article, but one to think about.

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The Sapphires is the reality based film about an Australian singing group composed of Aboriginal girls in the sixties. Prejudice was rampant everywhere and in Australia, aboriginal people were not classified as human beings, but as flora and fauna by the Australian government. The movie tells the story of how a group of teenage girls on a reserve make it out through their music. They do this by auditioning to perform for the troops in Vietnam.

Chris O’Dowd of Bridesmaids and the IT Crowd, plays Dave Lovelace, a down-at-the-heels reluctant MC, for a local pub near the reserve ( much like our reservations for American native people). The pub is putting on a talent show and the girls, calling themselves the Cumeragunja Songbirds enter the contest, amid much infighting amongst the sisters, before the performance. Somehow, Dave sees the talent they have and becomes their manager. Gail, the oldest is skeptical of his talents and on top of that he has to get over the hurdle of getting permission from the girl’s parents to try out for Vietnam. Then he has to steer the girls away from country and western music to soul music. “You’re black and you’re singing country and western. That’s just wrong. “ O’Dowd’s acting turn in this movie is wonderful, especially the scene where he’s asking Gail for forgiveness.

The movie is heartwarming, funny and provocative if a little formulaic, but the music is what make it really shine. The women in the film can really sing. The voice of Jessica Mauboy as Julie is amazing and they do some great covers of soul hits from the sixties and seventies. If you love soul music and want an uplifting and inspiring tale with a script written by an aboriginal writer and directed and acted by aboriginal people, then get over to The Flicks and see it. You will have a great time. PS at the show I was at on Sunday, the audience applauded and awwwwed during the credit roll.



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