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Movie Review

Sunshine on Leith

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Director: Dexter Fletcher

Starring: Peter Mullan, Jane Horrocks, George MacKay, Kevin Guthrie, Antonia Thomas, Freya Mavor, Paul Brannigan

Duration: 100 minutes

Certificate PG

1 of 5 Freya Mavor gets croonin' while boozin' in Sunshine on Leith
Freya Mavor gets croonin' while boozin' in Sunshine on Leith
2 of 5 Jane Horrocks and Peter Mullan play a couple whose 25-year marriage hits a major bump
Jane Horrocks and Peter Mullan play a couple whose 25-year marriage hits a major bump
3 of 5 There's even a bit of dancing along the way
There's even a bit of dancing along the way
4 of 5 Sunshine on Leith director Dexter Fletcher
Sunshine on Leith director Dexter Fletcher
5 of 5 Peter Mullan gets carried away in a kilt
Peter Mullan gets carried away in a kilt

I’m a right softie. A sucker for romcoms and musicals, I even cried at the end of ET (in fairness, I was only in my early 20s at the time) and am officially barred from watching It’s a Wonderful Life alone. So that pretty much qualifies this review of Sunshine on Leith, a film based on the unlikely hit musical of the same name, featuring a plethora of songs by four-eyed Scottish folkies The Proclaimers.

While the plot is as bog-standard as it gets, it's much better than obvious predecessor Mamma Mia! and a strong cast carries off a straightforward tale about squaddie pals Davy (George MacKay) and Ally (Kevin Guthrie), back from Afghanistan to rebuild their lives in Edinburgh. One is returning to his girl (Freya Mavor), while the other finds the girl of his dreams (Antonia Thomas) a little later.

Jane Horrocks and Peter Mullan work well as Davy’s parents whose25-year marriage is threatened by a major revelation, but the true star of Sunshine on Leith is Edinburgh itself. Easily the nicest city in Britain outside of London, it looks effortlessly romantic, inspiring, picturesque – oh, just pick your cliché. Every one applies. It’s like a Julie Andrews version of Trainspotting.

Another big plus, and a pleasant surprise, is how well the songs work. Sure, The Proclaimers have written two very good songs in Letter From America and 500 Miles, but it’s a testament to their skills that so many of their other tunes translate smoothly into the context of a musical.

Sunshine on Leith can’t change your life, but it will put a smile on your face. Sure, the cynical might call it Sunshine on Gleeth, but making comparisons with that TV show are just plain silly - although there are plenty of hands-in-the-air moments.

Life is tough in times of painful austerity as ordinary folk help the rich and powerful maintain their positions in society, but for 100 minutes you can put thoughts of bankers, politicians and personal debt to one side and just enjoy yourself.

All together now: 'Nah-nah-nah-nah (Nah-nah-nah-nah)...'

John Byrne




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