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Walking on Sunshine


Stars: Annabel Scholey, Hannah Arterton, Giulio Berruti, Greg Wise, Katy Brand, Leona Lewis, Danny Kirane, Giulio Corso

Director: Max and Dania

It’s a well-known adage that the show isn’t over until the fat lady sings.

Here, however, fat lady Katy Brand sings loud early on. Unfortunately “The Musical Movie Event Featuring the Hottest Hits of the 80’s” grinds on relentlessly and remains unbelievable from start to finish.

Its spirits may be high but its artistic ambitions are much, much lower as Joshua St Johnston’s emaciated screenplay is brought to unbelievable gaudy and song-sodden life by directors Max and Dania. (You can’t really blame them for not revealing their surnames).

It’s inevitable given the simple-minded story of romance set against attractive foreign backgrounds (here Italy, there Greece) that Mamma Mia comes to mind however hard you try and erase memories of it.

Mind you, compared with this mindless collage of comedy, music and romance, ‘Mamma Mia’ (sadly I still suffer from nightmares dreaming about Colin Firth dancing in a far too tight blue costume and Meryl Streep demonstrating her unique thespian talents by doing the splits) resembles a classic from the heyday of Arthur Freed’s MGM musicals.

Seemingly endless song-and-dance and predictable love stories put across with commendable enthusiasm by cliché-ridden characters and decorated with plenty of songs are the essential ingredients of a film that can safely be watched without switching on any major brain function as the predictable story rolls across the screen.

The dance numbers are certainly vigorous if unmemorable and cinematographer Philipp Blaubach deserves praise for his attractive wide-screen work.

For the record, Hannah Arterton comes to an Italian coastal town for the wedding of her sister Annabel Scholey to Italian hunk Giulio Berruti with whom Hannah had once had a fling. Cue Greg Wise as Scholey’s predatory ex-lover hoping to reignite their romance and that’s more story than is needed to fill in the gaps between the exuberant song-and-dance sequences.

Sunshine, hunks in bathing trunks and cute Italian locations keep your eyes open as the movie passes before your eyes without impinging on your memory. Sheer high spirits almost compensate for a show that cries out either to be (a) an inflight-movie to doze to without paying for it or (b) a DVD with a fast-forward control.

Verdict? Colourful, mawkish, painless and easy to rest to.

Alan Frank

UK 2014. UK Distributor: Vertigo Films. Colour.
97 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

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

Review date: 29 Jun 2014