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Sunshine on Leith


Stars: Peter Mullan, Jane Horrocks, George MacKay, Antonia Thomas, Kevin Guthrie, Freya Mavor, Jason Flemyng

Director: Dexter Fletcher

It's Scottish. And it's a musical. Just so you know what to expect with this warm-hearted, superbly-photographed wallow through songs by The Proclaimers that uneasily mixes various genres against an Edinburgh setting.

Davy (MacKay) and Ally (Guthrie) are soldiers home from Afghanistan and, unlike some of their fellows, in one piece, even as Davy's parents (Mullan, Horrocks) prepare to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. Davy strikes up a relationship with a nurse, Yvonne (Thomas), while Ally expects his proposal to Davy's sister Liz (Mavor) to be accepted.

Things, however, do not go smoothly. Davy and Yvonne have a rather contrived falling-out (so that we can have a musical reunion at the end), while Liz has her own plans for furthering her career. And a shadow from the past casts a blight on that anniversary.

This is pretty minimal plotting, as you admittedly do often get in musicals, and the choreography, while enthusiastic, is hardly Busby Berkeley. The real weakness, though is the songs, many of which consist of repeating one or two phrases over and over. Try humming any of them on the way home.

The girls sing better than the boys (who tend to grunt and husk their way through), with Horrocks a standout as Davy's mom. The songs, though, good or no, don't seem to flow on naturally from the narrative, the musical accompaniment to the transitions being too prominent. Old hand Flemyng, however, is a riot in his one song-and-dance scene, probably the best in the film.

Six out of 10 is probably a wee bit generous here, but you just can't deny that the film's heart is well and truly in the right place. And, apart from a couple of dubious lines of dialogue, it's highly suitable for stagestruck youngsters too.

David Quinlan

UK 2013. UK Distributor: Entertainment. Colour (unspecified).
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 04 Oct 2013