What if the Supremes had been born Down Under? A very conventional story of a '60s Australian girl group gains extra power from its context and setting in this fact-based story set to the beat of Motown soul.
Co-written by the son of one of the real-life singers and directed by Wayne Blair, who starred in the play based on their story, "The Sapphires" is clearly a labor of love for all involved. It's also a warm tribute to four women for whom success as performers was just the beginning.
Before the action begins, we learn two stark, devastating facts. Until 1967, the native Australians dubbed "Aborigines" by British settlers were not classified as humans by the Australian government. They were considered "flora or fauna." The government had the authority to remove light-skinned native children from their families as part of a program (depicted in "Rabbit-Proof Fence") to make them part of the white community.
In "The Sapphires," we meet the future singers as children, three sisters and their cousin, performing at a family celebration in 1958. The light-skinned cousin is taken to become part of what is now known as the "Stolen Generation," with no contact with her family.