I feel dreadfully awful for not watching and spreading the word about The Sapphires earlier. It's been on my radar for a couple years now, but I just never got around to it. I put it on my "list" on Netflix a while back, and finally got around to watching it tonight. So, let me preface this by suggesting that within about fifteen minutes I had purchased the Blu-Ray from Amazon. If you've seen The Commitments, you know exactly the kind of movie you're getting into. The music is incredible. The Sapphires have incredible voices and Chris O'Dowd is no slouch either. I have this thing when I hear a great singer sing in that I get chills up my spine and I pretty much had it this entire movie.
The Sapphires focuses on a group of four ladies in Australia with dreams of singing. What makes this story a bit different is that it plays out in the late sixties when Australia was dealing with a bunch of racism. The aborigines of Australia were not treated as equals to the white folk, or even as humans. The epilogue suggests that they were classified as "flora and fauna". Therein lies the rub in that trying to get four ladies of aborigine heritage some positive attention would obviously prove to be difficult. Enter the drunken washed up cruise entertainment officer played by O'Dowd who hears the talent and doesn't care about the colour of their skin. The ladies get their time to shine with the help of the drunken cruise entertainment officer turned manager when they go on a tour of US Army camps in Vietnam during the war.
In the classic rags-to-riches type tale, the ladies do experience fame of sorts as they parade around singing wonderful soul tunes. The soundtrack is to die for, and I immediately recall The Commitments and how great that soundtrack was. Where the latter film saw the band dissolve under the pressure of being the next big thing, The Sapphires never travel down that route. Instead you get a group of lovely ladies and their manager that are a true family to the end. There's laughter, tears, joy, sadness. On top of all this, you get the very strong underlying message about oppression and suppression that weighs heavily. Along with that, the film is based on a true story and some details arise about the original four ladies during the epilogue.
If you're looking for an absolutely wonderful film about music and about the reality that the world doesn't always see people as equal, I strongly recommend The Sapphires. I'd go as far as recommending the soundtrack as well, because it's bloody great. I don't know what it is, but I sure do like film and television that isn't North American!