Review: Sunshine on Leith

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Starring: George Mackay, Peter Mullan, Antonia Thomassunshine-on-leith

Rating: ★★★


By Kerri Mackenzie

I’m going to ask you a question. Do you enjoy feelings of happiness? Or better still; do you enjoy being happy whilst tapping your toes and humming along to The Proclaimers? If you answered yes to those questions then I highly recommend that you hot-foot it down to your local cinema to see Sunshine on Leith.

The concept is hardly brand new. Musicals have been turned into films left, right and centre stage.  But this is something different.  This is a Scottish film, based on a Scottish musical. It’s set in Scotland and has real Scottish people in it. Can you see what I’m getting at? This is a film about Scotland and it’s clearly for Scotland too. There’s numerous “private jokes” throughout the film, mostly at the expense of Hibs and their lack of success. It’s wonderful to see Scottish cinema put out such an uplifting film; after all, us Scots are hardly renowned for our cheerfulness, but Sunshine on Leith really did lift the spirits so much so that I walked out of the cinema with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. It has also left me singing the songs of The Proclaimers for days (which is no bad thing, really).

Yes, it was a great film – but while I thoroughly enjoyed it, it wasn’t necessarily without fault. At times it felt like it had really struggled to make the transition from stage to screen and at times I forgot that I was in the cinema and not the theatre. The acting was over-exaggerated in a way that suggests the cast had grown up on stage and were now breaking into the movie business. I would also point out that the cast only had two token good singers, but since it was the music of The Proclaimers that point is moot.

The story is centred on a main cast of about six; a mother, a father, a daughter and her boyfriend, who just so happens to be the best friend of her brother, who (and what are the chances?) ends up with her best friend. The film starts with the two boys coming home from Afghanistan and follows them as they adjust to civilian life and the ups and downs they face. Although the film does touch on the issues faced by soldiers (on leave and at home) it never goes into as much depth as I would have liked. But if it had, then it would have been a totally different film and it wouldn’t have left me dancing out of the cinema, filled with a sense of joy and a new found love of The Proclaimers.

There’s a sub-plot in the relationship between the parents and a whole heap of unexpected plot twists, but I’m not going to go into any more detail on that: you’ll just have to go and see it for yourself. And when you go, you’ll be glad that you did.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);