Review: Sunshine on Leith (15)

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It really is impossible to dislike this musical excursion into whimsy. First, it is directed by actor-turned-filmmaker Dexter Fletcher. Second, it is set in Edinburgh, arguably the most beautiful city in the world.

Third, it is festooned with tremendous songs by that most foot-tappingly brilliant duo, The Proclaimers.

Ally and Davy are two young Scots who return to Edinburgh from active service in Afghanistan. Both struggle to make a new life in civvy street but equally both have their hearts set on romance: Ally with his best pal’s sister, and Davy with his sister’s best pal.

The old story of boy meets girl – in this case the tale is doubled – and boy loses girl is punctuated by the back catalogue of The Proclaimers. And if the film occasionally becomes bogged down beneath thoughts of ‘When are they going to do Letter from America?’ it doesn’t really matter. For this is a life-affirming movie with a huge thumping heart. Think the kids from Fame meeting Maverick and Goose from Top Gun.

The scene is set from the off when, back from the war, the two boys skip and dance their way home. And if the movie is meant to underline the nature of true love it also hints at the deep friendships forged in combat. Ally and Davy are plausibly played by Kevin Guthrie and George MacKay, their sweethearts by Freya Mavor and Antonia Thomas, and Davy’s parents by Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks. All of them, to a greater or lesser degree, can handle a tune, just like the cast of Mamma Mia! MacKay and Mavor, Guthrie and Thomas bring the film’s ebullience to the screen but it is the pairing of Mullan and Horrocks that really gets the tear ducts pumping. There is something of Lee Marvin’s gravelly growl in Mullan’s brogue. And there is much pleasure to be had in hearing Little Voice star Horrocks sing on film again.

Fletcher has drawn together a strong ensemble for this surprise follow-up to his directorial debut Wild Bill. It is invidious to single out any one performer but Martin Compston lookalike Guthrie is the one to watch from this quartet of charismatic kids.

And, I cannae tell a lie: it’s fun. A lot of fun.