SUNSHINE ON LEITH – Screened September 9
United Kingdom, 2013 – Rated PG – 100 minutes
Written by Stephen Greenhorn
Directed by Dexter Fletcher
Cast: Peter Mullan, Antonia Thomas, Jason Flemyng
What would you give up for love? What love would you be willing to give up on? What makes love last — and when, if ever, is it time to let go? These tough questions drive Sunshine on Leith, a soaring musical based on the endlessly catchy tunes of Scotland’s beloved folk-pop duo The Proclaimers.
Best friends Davy (George MacKay) and Ally (Kevin Guthrie) return from military service in Afghanistan. Both come back in one piece — unlike some of their colleagues. Their brush with death only intensifies a desire to live life to the fullest, which for Davy involves falling head-over-heels in love with Yvonne (Antonia Thomas), while Ally plans to propose marriage to Davy’s sister Liz (Freya Mavor). Meanwhile, Davy and Liz’s folks, Rab (Peter Mullan) and Jean (Jane Horrocks), are set to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. It should be a happy occasion, if only Rab weren’t keeping a troubling secret.
A perfect balance of profound themes and rousing songs — from “I’m On My Way” to “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” — sung by actors giving it their soulful best, Sunshine on Leith piles one stirring scene atop another. Based on the stage musical by Stephen Greenhorn, the ebullient script seamlessly entwines dialogue and music, while director Dexter Fletcher’s focus on character development still leaves ample room for bursts of joyous, unexpected choreography: a party turns into a punch-up, and a declaration of love turns into a flash mob in the sunny streets of Leith. You’ll be humming these numbers long after the credits roll, wondering all the while: Who would you walk 500 miles for?