SEEING a British musical on our cinema screens is nothing short of a rarity nowadays – let alone a Scottish one.
Adapted from the acclaimed stage production, Sunshine on Leith follows in the footsteps of jukebox musical hit Mamma Mia! although, thankfully, doesn’t subject its audience to the travesty of Pierce Brosnan’s singing voice.
Taking 13 songs from Scottish folk-rock band The Proclaimers and using them to build up a narrative, the film that results is an uplifting, foot-tapping experience which – be warned – may result in your own fruitless attempts to sing with a Scottish accent after leaving the cinema.
The story itself focuses on Davy and Ally, two young soldiers who return home to their families in Edinburgh after months of combat in Afghanistan.
However, the boys’ triumphant return is soon upstaged by tangled love lives, surfacing family secrets and their own guilt at having survived the war unscathed, while so many of their friends have suffered.
Though Sunshine on Leith is undoubtedly a melodrama packed with emotion, the film injects enough humour and wit to prevent its characters being constantly plagued by misfortune.
Location is of paramount importance to the movie and the refreshing Scottish lilt in each singer’s voice truly grounds the Edinburgh setting, a city whose beauty is effortlessly captured in director Dexter Fletcher’s picturesque aerial shots.
However, adapting a musical from stage to screen can often be an awkward process and a few of the songs did not feel particularly well integrated, acting as more of a disruption to the story rather than helping it to progress.
That said, the overall movie was very well cast, with Peter Mullan giving an impressive performance in his solo rendition of ‘Oh Jean’, whilst the chemistry between the two lads in the central roles played out incredibly convincingly on camera.
But, inevitably, it was the film’s vibrant finale number that ended up stealing the show. What better way to finish a Scottish musical than with a lively flash mob rendition of I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) in Edinburgh’s city centre?!
Although the songs of The Proclaimers’ may not seem an obvious choice for a hit musical, they turn out to be surprisingly catchy, with the sheer energy and warmth that Sunshine on Leith exudes making it a perfect feature for this dreary October.
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