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!

Film No 28 (2014) : Little Voice

LVOne thing about Netflix is that it does throw up some classics, despite its somewhat limited selection of films. I had never actually seen ‘Little Voice’, although its reputation was such that I somehow knew it! The film was directed by Sam Mendes and is an adaptation of the play ‘The Rise & Fall of Little Voice’, written in 1992 by Jim Cartwright. Diana Vickers took the lead role in a West End production in 2009/10.

LV, played by Jane Horrocks, is a painfully shy…teenager? (I am not sure, because it was really difficult to pin an age on her character.) Overpowered and belittled by her mother, LV spends most of her time in her room, playing records which belonged to her late father’s collection. But this is not pop music; LV loses herself in the greats – Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Edith Piaf. When LV’s mother, falls for washed-up talent agent, Ray Say (Michael Caine) and invites him to the house, Say overhears LV singing and spots an opportunity to make himself some money. He invests in a stage set, the punters arrive and wait. Literally petrified at first, LV is unable to move, let alone sing. When she finally finds her voice, it turns out to be anything but little. There is a spark within LV, which is ignited when she gets the opportunity to perform on stage. Her performance turns out to be a catalyst as she finds her voice both literally and metaphorically – with some faith in herself restored, LV finds courage to retaliate, sticking up for herself against her bullying mother. Continue reading