Sunshine On Leith
Director: Dexter Fletcher.
Screenplay: Stephen Greenhorn.
Starring: Peter Mullan, Jane Horrocks, George MacKay, Kevin Guthrie, Antonia Thomas, Freya Mavor, Jason Flemyng, Paul Brannigan, Emma Hartley-Miller, Daniela Nardini.
After recently enjoying the debauched underbelly of Edinburgh in Irvine Welsh’s “Filth“, I was curious to see Scotland’s capital feature again in a more lighthearted film. As a general rule, I avoid musicals at all costs as I’m just not that keen on people bursting into song every few minutes. However, I was impressed by actor Dexter Fletcher’s impressive directorial debut “Wild Bill” in 2011 and couldn’t resist the urge to see a musical featuring the fantastic songs of The Proclaimers.
After a tour of Afghanistan, two young recruits, Davy (George MacKay) and Ally (Kevin Guthrie) return home to Leith, Edinburgh to adapt to civilian life. They both find love in their lives but realise that relationships are never easy, regardless of age. Davy hooks up with nurse Yvonne (Antonia Thomas) while Ally plans to marry Davy’s sister, Liz (Freya Mavor) who wants to move to America. Meanwhile Davy’s mum and dad, Rab (Peter Mullan) Jean (Jane Horrocks), have problems of their own.
There will more than likely be a few readers who are unfamiliar with the music of Scottish double-act, The Proclaimers but don’t let that deter you from this film. The songs of Charlie and Craig Reid are perfectly fitting to this working class drama and Fletcher does a fantastic job of intertwining the struggles of his characters with the band’s clever and poetic lyrics. As expected, people do burst into song every now and again but the delivery is so charming and delightful that it’s very difficult not to get swept up in the enthusiasm of everyone involved. Such classics like “I’m on my way“, “Letter from America” “I’m gonna be (500 miles)“, “Should have been loved” and, of course, the beautiful “Sunshine on Leith” are pitched perfectly for individual scenes either with the requisite verve or pathos that’s demanded. Quite simply, the film is an absolute joy and credit has to go to Fletcher for another interesting and accomplished directorial outing. Admittedly, the film has it’s moments of over sentimentality but the performances are committed enough to make it work overall; Peter Mullan’s gravelly tones may not be to everyone’s satisfaction but otherwise he’s reliably solid while the likes of Jason Flemyng and youngsters George MacKay, Kevin Guthrie, Freya Mavor and Antonia Thomas all equip themselves well. For those that have seen “Little Voice“, however, will not be surprised to hear that it’s Jane Horrocks who’s most comfortable with her numbers. Not only is she a highly underrated actress but also one with wonderful vocal talents.
What with the likes of Danny Boyle’s “Trainspotting” and “Shallow Grave“, Ken Loach’s “My Name Is Joe” or even the aforementioned “Filth“, it’s refreshing to see a film set in Scotland that steps away from the grim social realism and paint the city inhabitants in a playful and joyful manner.
Cheerful, easy-going and so warm that only the hardest and coldest of hearts will be able to resist it’s charm. What “Mamma Mia” did for fans of Swedish band Abba, this little gem will do for those that enjoy The Proclaimers.