Review: Sunshine On Leith

Poster for 2013 musical film Sunshine On Leith

Genre: Musical
Certificate: PG
UK Release Date: 4th October 2013
Runtime: 100 minutes
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writer: Stephen Greenhorn
Starring: George MacKay, Kevin Guthrie, Antonia Thomas, Peter Mullan, Jane Horrocks, Jason Flemyng
Synopsis: Two soldiers return home to Edinburgh and try to rebuild their family lives and relationships after experiencing the horrors of war.



It’s very rare that a film can unironically be referred to as “the feel-good film of the year” and in fact, the phrase is a bit of a cliché amongst critics. However, there’s no doubt that the first adjective to describe Proclaimers musical Sunshine On Leith would be “feel-good”.

If you don’t leave the cinema with a massive grin on your face, then you’re probably already dead. This is Mamma Mia with kilts. And it’s brilliant.

Davy (George MacKay) and Ally (Kevin Guthrie) return home after their tour of Afghanistan. Ally resumes his relationship with Davy’s sister, whilst Davy meets beautiful Englishwoman Yvonne (Antonia Thomas). Along with Davy’s parents Rab (Peter Mullan) and Jean (Jane Horrocks), they must all learn to navigate life and relationships. Whilst singing. Always singing.

In the same week as Irvine Welsh shocker Filth, a film as good natured as Sunshine On Leith was a thrilling surprise. Based on the stage musical of the same name, it is a raucous, heartfelt delight of a movie with a great sense of fun.

Dexter Fletcher, in the director’s chair again after Wild Bill, marshalls the musical merriment perfectly. His safe hands ensure that Sunshine On Leith always stays on the right side of saccharine. The myriad musical sequences, drawing from The Proclaimers’ surprisingly memorable back catalogue, are handled with great aplomb and involve a lot of banging on tables and hilarious dancing – also often on tables.

George MacKay is a revelation as the kind-hearted Davy and Misfits star Antonia Thomas sizzles as his sometimes love interest. Praise must also go to Peter Mullan, whose singing voice isn’t the greatest, but is rescued by his emotional depth.

The anchor of Sunshine On Leith though is the wonderful Jane Horrocks. Her performance is subtly brilliant and emotionally ignites when it needs to. Her tearful rendition of the title song is enough to dampen the eyes of even the toughest Scot.

And that’s the beauty of Sunshine On Leith. Amidst the fun and the singing and the dancing is a beating emotional heart. It has the capacity to raise as many tears as it does giggles, which is a real strength.

Sure, the performances aren’t perfect and a number of characters are sidelined for very little reason as the film nears its third act. There are some enormously clunky introductions into songs too, but crucially, it doesn’t matter.

Sunshine On Leith is great fun from the start and one of the most joyous films to come out in the last few years. From the moment it starts, you’re on your way from misery to happiness… aha… aha.


Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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