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Sunshine On Leith



Sunshine-on-Leith-620x350Released: 2013

Directed By: Dexter Fletcher

Starring: George Mackay, Kevin Guthrie, Jane Horrocks, Peter Marsan

Certificate: PG

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

Proving a dab hand at a genre that whilst admittedly is saturated with entries is engrained within the psyche of British cinema, Dexter Fletcher’s directorial bow ‘Wild Bill’ was fittingly a criminally under-appreciated stab at the gangster film, instilled with a refreshing emotional core and littered with comic zingers. His latest feature, is certainly a far cry from the Cockney ‘underworld’ as the director warms up his vocal chords. In a year where we’ve had a severe yet critically lauded case of the ‘Miserables, Fletcher invites audiences to catch some rare ‘Sunshine On Leith’, a big-screen adaptation of the stage musical originally created by Stephen Greenhorn.

Fresh from a physical and mentally draining jaunt actively serving in Afghanistan, we begin with the down to earth duo of Davy and Ally (George Mackay and Kevin Guthrie respectively) returning home to their beloved Edinburgh. Inevitably, the adjustment back to the normality of being welcomed back by tight-knit family units proves a difficult process, as the harsh reality of the tragic loss of life overseas continues to plague. Reluctantly becoming accustomed to the monotonous nature of their newly acquired jobs in a call centre, it’s the transferral of their heroic efforts in a war-torn environment, into their search for a great love that unites the pair.

Keeping it within the family, Ally is eager to pick up where he left off with Davy’s ambitious sister Liz (Freya Mavor). For Davy, it’s the classic ‘double date’ drink-fuelled scenario which sees him introduced to Liz’s work colleague and friend Yvonne played by Antonia Thomas. On the bright side, Davy’s parents Jean and Rab (Jane Horrocks and Peter Mullan) are all set to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary in style. With the welcome early surprise of their son returning from duty, is another shock set to greet the loving couple?

On a cinematic level, Scotland has often being seen as a gritty and ideal scene to dissect matters of a hard hitting, social realist nature. As a direct result of continuously playing to convention, ‘Sunshine On Leith’s starry-eyed exuberance and enthusiasm within the confines of a narrative brimming with warmth is a breath of fresh air. Dexter Fletcher’s clear affection for the Edinburgh setting shines through with ease, as the sweeping aerial shots and the efficient staging of its obligatory element, admirably elevating the film above its occasional delve into serial drama style subplots and modest budget.

Avid fans of The Proclaimers’ anthemic back catalogue may ‘connect the dots’ quickly from a plot standpoint, but it’s the fearlessness of its instantly likeable cast that help earns the film’s rousing and emotionally tender moments without feeling too manufactured. The collective laddish charms of George Mackay and Kevin Guthrie’s Davy and Ally proves to be a terrific combo, without the duo being overshadowed by the film’s seasoned veterans, as Jane Horrocks showcases her ‘Little Voice’ once more and Peter Mullan’s grovelling tone is a treat to behold.

It may not possess the technical refinement or the production values of its better known fellow genre entries. However, when so many musicals hold a tune yet fail to truly connect, ‘Sunshine On Leith’ is truly music to your senses. A glorious, toe-tapping joy, that solidifies the emerging versatility and talents of its director.

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