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The Sapphires


A Special Presentation at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, The Sapphires is a wildly entertaining musical comedy in the tradition of Strictly Ballroom and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Based on the smash 2004 Australian play by Tony Briggs (who co-wrote the screenplay), The Sapphires was inspired by the true story of Briggs’ mother and aunt, who sang in an all-Aboriginal female soul quartet that entertained American troops during the Vietnam War.

Set in 1968, the story begins with sisters Gail (Deborah Mailman, Bran Nue Dae, the Film Circuit hit Rabbit Proof Fence), Diana (Jessica Mauboy, Bran Nue Dae), and Cynthia (newcomer Miranda Tapsell) entering a local talent competition in an outback pub, where their moving rendition of a Merle Haggard classic outclasses the tone-deaf competition but fails to win over the racist judges. One man is impressed, however: boozy Irish emcee Dave Lovelace (Chris O’Dowd, Bridesmaids), a would-be music promoter with an ear for raw talent. He convinces the girls to swap their sleepy country standards for soul music, promising to turn them into stars. Recruiting their long-estranged cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens) as a fourth member, the girls soon sing their way from the far-flung Australian outback to Southeast Asia and a tour of war-torn Vietnam.

Filled with show-stopping renditions of classic Motown hits that showcase the phenomenal voice of Mauboy (an Australian Idol alumnus), The Sapphires deftly mixes sparkling humour with serious drama, a delicate balance maintained not least by O’Dowd’s charisma and lackadaisical charm. Featuring stunning period recreations and gorgeous cinematography by Warwick Thornton, The Sapphires is a rousing film that hits all the right notes.


Critical Notes

"First-time filmmaker Wayne Blair has crafted an exuberant celebration of Aboriginality that fizzes with humor and heart; its soulfulness goes beyond the embrace of a jukebox full of Motown, Stax and Atlantic Records hits." —Megan Lehmann, The Hollywood Reporter

"The harmonies they strike in this reality-inspired charmer are sweetly sublime." - Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post


Film Information

Director: Wayne Blair
Cast:: Chris O'Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Miranda Tapsell, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens 
Year: 2012
Runtime: 103 
Country: Australia
Language: English
Distributor: Entertainment One
Ratings: ON NR / BC NR / AB NR / SK NR / MB NR / QC NR / Maritmes NR



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* Represents an approximate date. Please consult local listings.