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In 1968 four Aboriginal women, the Cummeragunja Song Birds, change their fortune’s tune when an unlikely fairy godmother  – down-on-his-luck and regularly soused Irish musician Dave Lovelace (Chris O’Dowd) –  plucks them from outback obscurity and sets them up, revamped as the Sapphires, with a gig to belt out dazzling soulful tunes for American marines in Vietnam. Embroiled in a hot mess of racial politics and survival efforts, the Sapphires’ personal dramas take centrestage in the film – here with deft licks of humour and strings of soulfulness this mostly feel-good tale resonates. Dowd is a standout delivering both unabashed quips and bumbling affection to combat the group’s hardlined protective force Gail, played by ever-sharp Deborah Mailman. This real-life-based story infused with spark, soul and wit sings – for the most part – delightfully onscreen. ***1/2

Written by Chrysoula Aiello