Film No 31 (2014) : Sunshine on Leith

sunshine on leithI used to live in Edinburgh; we had a small flat just 5 minutes walk from Leith, overlooking where the Royal Yacht Britannia is now anchored. As well as some of the saddest, I also had some of the happiest moments of my life in Scotland’s capital, including meeting my husband. Scotland is (so far!), my favourite place in the whole world.

In order to add authenticity to my viewing experience of ‘Sunshine on Leith‘, I borrowed a real-life Scottish person to watch it with me. True, she does hail from the Outer Hebrides, islands which are rather a long way from the historical port of Edinburgh, but her soft burr was the perfect accompaniment to the film!

Directed by Dexter Fletcher, this is a musical, in the style of ‘Mamma Mia’. The storylines are woven through with songs – not, in this case, the music of Abba, but of the two-man band, ‘The Proclaimers‘. The film tells the stories of Davy and Ally (George MacKay and Kevin Guthrie respectively), young soldiers returning to their families after a tour of Afghanistan. The lads have to figure out what to do next, and the film is set against the background of Davy’s parents silver anniversary year and his sister’s tug-of-heart about whether to settle in Edinburgh or see some of the world.

The marriage of music and plot often felt contrived – my canny pal foresaw the opening bars of ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)‘ appearing on the horizon of the storyline at least 10 minutes before they arrived! But the Reid’s tunes are jaunty toe-tappers with intelligent lyrics. The film was saved by the undoubted talent of  the key actors – Jane Horrocks and Peter Mullan in particular.  (The singers themselves actually feature in a short cameo, wandering out of a pub!)

There are great views of Leith and the city; part of the fun was yelling at the screen, ‘I know where that is, do you remember….?!’. If you don’t feel any great affinity for Caledonia, The Proclaimers or Edinburgh itself, there is probably not a great deal to draw you to this film. But for me, who’d love to be an honorary Scot, it cast some happy rays over my evening!


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