Film Review: The Sapphires

The Sapphires is a sufficiently entertaining comedy drama with great music. However, the serious aspects of the narrative do not gel together with more jovial elements of the film.

In 1968 three Aboriginal sisters are keen to showcase their singing talents. When Dave spots them at a talent show he sees their potential. Some changes have to be made before they are ready. Firstly, the girls need to trade in their country songs for soul music…

Loosely based on real people, The Sapphires combines real historical incidents with the story of a musical family who want to make it big. The film mixes comedy and musical numbers with more serious issues such as the Vietnam War and the treatment of Aboriginal people in 1960s Australia. Race is a significant theme, which is unsurprising given the premise.

The Sapphires has good intentions and a decent premise, but is let down by the execution. The humorous moments and fun musical interludes appear at odds with the more serious aspects of the film. At times, it seems like director Wayne Blair struggles to get the tone right. Moreover, although there are some funny lines, script does not really pack an emotional punch the way it should.

Chris O’Dowd offers an amiable performance as Dave. Other performances are adequate. The Sapphires features renditions of many popular hits of the late 1960s. Visuals are fine overall, except for a small number of inauthentic-looking shots in Vietnam scenes.

The Sapphires does not quite get the balance right between comedy and drama, historical events and fictional story. Entertaining enough but not wholly successful.