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Review: Sunshine on Leith

This time ten years ago, I had just moved to Edinburgh as an undergraduate at the university. Although I had visited the city many times before, I had never lived there. However, to nobody’s surprise, it wasn’t long before I fell head over heels (not literally, even on cobbles!) for its winding streets and moody skies.

It seems like Dexter Fletcher has also fallen under Edinburgh’s spell. For his second directorial outing he has abandoned his North London roots for a brilliantly true-to-life portrayal of the city beyond the tartan and tourists. Sunshine on Leith, an all singing, all dancing adaptation of the stage musical of the same name, is based on the back catalogue of Scottish pop-folk band, The Proclaimers.

The film tells the tale of local lads Davy (George MacKay) and Ally (Kevin Guthrie) who are newly back from Afghanistan – which is portrayed simply, but movingly, in the opening sequence. However, as is all too typical, they struggle to find their way in a life outside the army, especially with the renewed pressures of family, jobs and relationships that come with it.

Once you get over the fact that characters constantly burst into song at a moment’s notice (it is a musical after all!), the film is surprisingly enjoyable. Although the storyline verges on the ridiculous throughout, the highs and lows are nicely balanced – it has some great one-liners, as well as a scene-stealing wee kid and a dance sequence in a gallery* that I would secretly love to emulate.

The portrayal of Edinburgh is admittedly saccharine sweet – for one thing, it never seems to rain and there are moments when the writers appear to be on a mission to single-handedly dispel the myth of the dour Scot. But I must admit that as I left the cinema, a small voice in my head was reminding me that much as I love my life in London, a part of me will always wish that I could pack up tomorrow and walk 500 miles north (or at least hop on the train)…

* ironically, this sequence was filmed in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, in Glasgow, as were many of the other scenes in the film

100 mins | PG | October 4
Watched: October 5, Cineworld Haymarket (Screen 2)


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