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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
George MacKay
Kevin Guthrie
Freya Mavor
Antonia Thomas
Peter Mullan
Jane Horrocks
Jason Flemyng.
Directors
Dexter Fletcher.
Screenwriters
Stephen Greenhorn.
Running Time
100 minutes

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Sunshine On Leith
Hooray for Holyrood


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Plot
Returning to Leith after a tour of Afghanistan, Davy (MacKay) and Ally (Guthrie) adapt to civilian life, Davy hooking up with nurse Yvonne (Thomas), Ally planning marriage to Davy’s sister, Liz (Mavor). Meanwhile Davy’s dad Rab (Mullan) is hiding a secret from his wife, Jean (Horrocks).


Review
Sunshine On Leith

It’s a hard heart that doesn’t warm to Sunshine On Leith. A jukebox musical by Stephen Greenhorn built around the back catalogue of bespectacled twins The Proclaimers — the soundtrack has the one about walking 500 miles and 12 less popular songs — Dexter Fletcher’s directorial follow-up to Wild Bill delivers an upbeat tale of young love, old secrets, thwarted dreams and supporting Hibs.

Fletcher of course appeared in Bugsy Malone (“I’m Baby Face”), and he imports some of the spirit of Alan Parker’s musical here. Bravely the movie opens with squaddies in Afghanistan singing in tight close-up that effectively gets you over the it’s-a-musical bump, with Fletcher subsequently staging the numbers (an exuberant pub sing-song, a museum number with Jason Flemyng going full Brosnan-in-Mamma Mia!) with direct, unpretentious simplicity. But his biggest asset is his cast. Doing the pre-recorded thing rather than the live Les Mis thing, the winning four young leads attack the songs with infectious enthusiasm, while Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks add moving colours.

When it moves away from its musical numbers, the film feels less certain, falling into soap-opera shenanigans around rejected marriage proposals, long-lost daughters and plot-changing heart attacks. The Proclaimers’ song-writing also offers tougher insights into bruised masculinity, call-centre banality and Scottish identity than this wants to grant them — it’s a film with a decidedly soft centre. Still, by the time we get to the finale, inevitably set to the aforementioned signature anthem — on disc a shout-y stomper; here a Glee flash mob — you’ve already succumbed to Fletcher’s peculiarly Scottish romantic streak. Not bad for a North London boy.


Verdict
It may lack the subtleties and emotional wallop of a lo-fi musical like Once, but Sunshine On Leith delivers a bright, cheery, big-hearted smile of a movie. If it’s a huge hit, expect SingalongaRunrig at an IMAX near you.


Reviewed by Ian Freer

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Sunshine On Leith
Empire Star Rating

RE: Sunshine On Leith

So, there are 'The Hits' in here, as well as songs which the average punter will be less familiar, which is all fair enough, but the songs don't tell the story as such, they only seem to be there because the script has cued them up. You sort of get the feeling that this was either a cheap cash-in, or the outcome of a bet that Stephen Greenhorn couldn't write a musical around The Proclaimers' songs. Either way, the end result seems to have been more important than the craft. I didn't expect to l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 18:28, 18 October 2013 | Report This Post


Very fair summary

Saw this yesterday, and I'm still singing( badly) a couple of the big numbers. It has the usual tropes of the film musical, such as a couple of squaddies in full uniform and giant backpacks, singing and dancing down the street as if it was perfectly normal, but so what? It has a sense of fun throughout, and the 4 young leads are all great The really unbelievable thing was finding sunny days in Edinburgh, but then it's all a fantasy isn't it? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by GCH at 17:56, 10 October 2013 | Report This Post


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