Home Year 2013 Sunshine On Leith (2013)

Sunshine On Leith (2013)

We won't have any of that sort of thing in here - it's a family pub!
We won’t have any of that sort of thing in here – it’s a family pub!

Twitter Plot Summary: Two soldiers return from Afghanistan and start singing Proclaimers songs. Must be some sort of PTSD.

Genre: Comedy/Drama/Musical/Romance

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Key Cast: George MacKay, Antonia Thomas, Peter Mullan, Jane Horrocs, Freya Mavor, Kevin Guthrie, Jason Flemyng

Five Point Summary:

1. Obligatory Proclaimers cameo
2. Singing and dancing in a pub? Most peculiar.
3. So she’s off to America is she? Wonder if she’ll send a letter or a postcard back. Nah, probably just an email. Or Skype.
4. Relationship woes come to a head.
5. Flash mob in Edinburgh.

You wouldn’t expect there to be much in the idea of a musical based solely on the songs of The Proclaimers, would you? Okay, so the likes of Queen and Abba have musical based on their own extensive back catalogues, but The Proclaimers? To Joe Public, there are perhaps only two or three songs that have entered the public zeitgeist, certainly not enough to extend to a full musical. But there you would be wrong, there’s a bounty of popular tracks in their back catalogue that are both catchy and points to push the plot forward.

There’s a bevy of drama between the three couples established in the film – Rab and Jean going through a shaky patch around their 25th wedding anniversary; Liz and Ally resuming their relationship when he returns from Afghanistan; and then there’s Davy and Yvonne’s budding romance, she the English girl living in Edinburgh, he the Scots soldier who has difficulty knocking down the emotional brick wall he put up during his tour of duty. Jason Flemyng’s museum manager seems like he could add a layer of complication to things, but he instead has a surprisingly altruistic stance. In fact it’s amazing seeing him without a huge amount of prosthetics and paint stuck to his face, bet that made a nice change for him. Needless to say, the plot doesn’t twist and turn too much, mostly because it’s constrained by the songs. It was always going to finish with that particular song, there was always going to be somebody sending a letter from America, and so on. That doesn’t matter so much, because the fact they’ve managed to construct a narrative that makes sense amid the various Scots-infused pop tracks is worthy of mention just by itself. When you consider the strong performances from everybody involved, be they relatively new to the game (George Mackay, Fraya Mavor) or old stalwarts like Jane Horrocks and Peter Mullan’s, it embeds the realism if not the believability.

There was only one thing for it - he was going to serenade his wife Jean with a song called "Oh Jean" by The Proclaimers. Because they're all Scottish.
There was only one thing for it – he was going to serenade his wife Jean with a song called “Oh Jean” by The Proclaimers. Because they’re all Scottish.

There’s a message about the effects of war that gets lost amongst the schmaltz, however the opening sequence in the Middle East is powerful enough on its own. One of the soldiers who has returned minus his legs shows up in a couple of scenes, but any possibility of an anti-war message is soon forgotten. Just bask in how glorious Edinburgh looks (even if that’s probably not actually the case – not been there myself so I can’t really comment) and the overall cheeriness of the Proclaimer’s songs.

It’s ultimately a feel good film, no real depth but an enjoyable ride while you’re involved with it. More often than not, you need a musical to be thoroughly entertaining on a surface level only, and in that respect it delivers. If you’re so inclined, you may even find certain aspects of the drama worthy of a tear or “something in your eye” like smoke or a tiny bit of gravel. Not me of course, I’m made of sterner stuff. Now, if somebody could adapt We Will Rock You for the big screen, I’ll be happy. Make it happen people.

Favourite scene: The final flash mob and accompanying music.

Silly Moment: Jason Flemyng’s dancing. Oh my.

Score: 3.5/5

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