Starring: George MacKay, Peter Mullan, Jane Horrocks, Antonia Thomas, Freya Mavor, Jason Flemyng, Kevin Guthrie
Directed by: Dexter Fletcher
Synopsis: Two Scottish soldiers return from Afghanistan, home to Leith (Edinburgh, Scotland) to the warm embrace of their families.
After a crap week at work, I can honestly say I haven’t smiled during a movie as much as this for ages. In fact, the last time I had a smile on my face as big as this was during the Hall & Oates “You Make My Dreams” scene with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer. It must be something to do with singing and mass dance routines or something?!
In case you don’t know Sunshine on Leith is a stage musical based on the music of The Proclaimers (they of I Would Walk 500 Miles fame). The film adaptation is, I guess because I haven’t seen it, fairly similar in style to Mamma Mia in that it is a plot devised to fit around the lyrics of the songs. This sometimes means you are awaiting for certain songs depending on where the story is. For instance, when Freya Mavor’s character leaves her boyfriend to go to America, I just knew she would start singing Letter From America.
None of this ruined my enjoyment of the film though. The music was great, I knew way more Proclaimers songs than I thought I did. And they are fantastic songs! The cast were good, from youngsters like George MacKay and Antonia Thomas to veterans like Jane Horrocks and Peter Mullan (sounding like a Scottish Tom Waits)!
The basis of the story is the return from Afghanistan of two young Scottish soldiers and their re-integration into their everyday lives. Alongside this there is family drama involving Peter Mullan’s daughter from a previous relationship. The plot is fairly lightweight and is more of a vehicle for the songs, but it kept me interested. Director Dexter Fletcher, who people may know more as an actor in stuff such as Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels does a good job and pays the music the respect it deserves, as do the cast.
Musicals might not be your thing, they’re certainly not mine, but Sunshine on Leith will get your toes tapping and your face beaming right from the start, especially when the whole pub breaks into a rendition of “It’s Over and Done With” or “Let’s Get Married”.
Oh, and look out for the Proclaimers themselves right at the start as the two young troops walk past a pub!