A Scottish dramedy musical set to the songs of The Proclaimers? If you just shouted “sign me up!” over the blaring sound of I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) you won’t be disappointed by this sunny sophomore effort from cockney actor-turned-director Dexter Fletcher.
Following two mildly-shellshocked soldiers returning home to their families and loved ones, Sunshine On Leith dances a rather wobbly line between good-natured humour and soul-crushing sadness. Fletcher plays up the laughs and commits a strong underlying flair for milking well-tuned and natural performances from his actors. The mostly unknown cast form great chemistry with one another, selling their roles really rather well.
However, Leith really begins to stumble when the emotional downturns begin to creep into the frame. Tonally, it seems to loose its balance when its shiny disposition is tested, meaning the grand (although often rather deluded) romance of the picture never feels real enough to believe. Perhaps a product of the film’s bread-and-butter budget or the wonky source material, none the less Sunshine On Leith lacks any truly epic musical numbers, which really, any self-respecting musical should have as standard.
Leith’s biggest problem though, is of course the singing. If you can name a Proclaimers song that isn’t the catchy, aforementioned 500 Miles, then you’ll no doubt be in heaven. The other 99.9% of the cinema-going public will no doubt squirm in their seats at the dodgy lyrics and karaoke-quality sing-alongs that feel far more office christmas party than stunning broadway show.
Sunshine On Leith is ultimately a chirpy and enjoyable Brit-flick to see once then never remember again. Its lack of grandeur and unconvincing emotional stakes leave it a pleasant but far from involving experience.
Sunshine On Leith (2013), directed by Dexter Fletcher, is released in UK cinemas by Entertainment Film Distributors, Certificate PG.