It’s the beginning of an exciting new week at The BFI London Film Festival and the order of this evening is The Sapphires, the debut feature film from resident Aussie, Wayne Blair. Inspired by true events, it’s a gutsy, upbeat and at times satirical story of four girls with one dream.
It’s the late 60’s, 1968 to be precise, indigenous Australians have just been granted the right to vote, the civil rights movement is rife across the globe, and of course, the Vietnam War is in full throttle. The story focusses on three Indigenous sisters who have grown up in a rural mission, and whilst the universal notion of sisterly bickering is clearly still applied in deep Australia, the girls have one united dream… to make it big in the music industry and become stars.
The group perform at a local bar where they meet the hapless and often intoxicated MC Dave Lovelace (Chris O’Dowd) who agrees to manage the band and secures them an audition to entertain the US troops out in Vietnam. There’s one problem, Dave ‘I might look white, but this blood runs black on the inside’ Lovelace is a soul man, and the girls are born and bred country ‘n’ western singers. Dave’s persistence clearly pays off as the girls wow the judges with their soulful rendition of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’ and secure their place in Vietnam.
The rest of the film see’s the girls tour Vietnam, steadily becoming the flavour of the month with the American troops. The soundtrack is arguably one of the best of 2012 with hits ranging from Lynda Lyndells ‘What a Man’ to The Jackson Fives ‘Who’s Loving You?’ all leaving the most rhythm-less of cinemagoers hip-wiggling in their seats.
This is a glorious film which will appeal to men and women alike. It’s a heart-warming, soul-tastic, sing-along with a political under-current that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Its reference to the human rights movement, the assassination of Martin Luther King and 1960’s promiscuity are all off-set beautifully by O’Dowd who is fast becoming one Britain’s best loved comedic exports. A must see.
The Sapphires releases 7 November 2012.