Four talented, spunky girls get plucked from obscurity to form a soul-singing girl group that hits it big in the ’60s. But the new film “The Sapphires” isn’t the Australian version of “Dreamgirls.” Director Wayne Blair and writer Tony Briggs went for grit over glitz, and not just because of their modest budget. Authenticity is at the musical heart of this true but little-known story about four Aboriginal women, one of whom happened to be Briggs’s mother.
“We had to keep true to the four original Sapphires. I had to keep it real with an edge of beauty,” says Blair during a recent interview in Boston. “We knew we’d be compared to ‘Sparkle,’ ‘Dreamgirls’ or ‘The Commitments.’ I also looked at ‘Ray,’ and the Tina Turner movie [“What’s Love Got to Do With It”]. . . . We didn’t have the money for bells and whistles. I just had to know when to turn the volume up and when to turn it down.”