Right now America is in something of a frenzy of violence, anger and despair as the events of the last few weeks have ruptured people’s sense of security. There are lots of ways to try and disengage from “the news” and one of those is to get to the movies – but when so many latest releases are full of violence, you have to wonder what kind of disengagement you are going to get? It sometimes feels like the only alternative is a rom-com that will make my husband throw up a little bit in his mouth, or an animated film – which are great, but I think we deserve a little more adult entertainment.
And then along comes the Australian movie, The Sapphires, to save the day.
The Sapphires is a beautifully woven story set in 1968. Four indigenous girls form a Supremes-like group that tours Vietnam to entertain the troops. The relationships between the girls are spawned of the setting of the Stolen Generation. The fact that indigenous Australians were (and in many cases remain) alienated and treated with disdain, and that light-skinned Aboriginal children were regularly simply taken from their families and homed with white families in order to ‘teach them better ways’ is a shameful yet vital part of Australia’s history. Americans would do well to see how that worked out.
But while the Stolen Generation forms a foundational aspect for the story, it doesn’t overshadow the plot, and there is plenty for America to love. This is not a solemn film. Instead, the reality of what opportunity looks like for these girls, their families back home, and their beliefs in promising futures create an environment where everyone has their eyes opened, with some really great music, some very funny moments, and a few tears as well along the way.
While this film is inspired by a true story, the introduced character of Dave as the girls’ manager provides a connectedness to the film that pushes every scene forward. This is the best work I’ve seen from Chris O’Dowd. The music is fantastic. The acting is wonderful. (Deborah Mailman is a wonderful actor, and she plays Gail beautifully while Julie’s vocals, played by Jessica Mauboy, are flawless.) The emotion you feel as you go along for each part of this ride is authentic, and the relationships between the main characters feel very real.
You’ll leave the theater grateful for the experience, and very glad you went. Take a group of women who love music, and who value each other, or do as we did, and make it a date night movie. Either way, it’s a really enjoyable film, and you’ll likely be swept away by the story (you might like to take a tissue, but you won’t be left red eyed and snotty at the end). Watch the trailer below, and track down a local theater to see The Sapphires before its limited run ends. You’ll thank me. 🙂
In Denver, the Sapphires is currently showing at Century Boulder and UA Denver West Village Stadium 12 in Lakewood.