What I'm Watching: Sunshine on Leith
So spring is finally starting to look like it's here and the sun is actually shining. Not the best time to stay in watching films, but if you were going to, wouldn't you want something sunny and feel-good? That's why I'm recommending Sunshine on Leith, a juke-box musical based on the music of The Proclaimers. It's not Mamma Mia/Walking on Sunshine level feel-good, but I like it better.
The Proclaimers are a Scottish band composed of twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid, and they've been around for donkey's years (since the 80s.) If you're not a big fan (or Scottish) most likely the only songs you'll be familiar with are 500 Miles, I'm on my Way and possibly Letter to America. I'd only heard of the first two, but one watch in and I was a fan. Sunshine on Leith started it's life as a stage musical in Scotland, and tells the story of two friends, Davy and Ally, newly returned from the war in Afghanistan. Ally is in a relationship with Davy's sister Liz, and on their first night home she introduces Davy to her English friend Yvonne. It's a romance, a coming of age-story and just basically about ordinary people living their lives. And it's a musical, so you know, its got that going for it.
"Make my Heart Fly" movie clip :)
One of the things I like about Sunshine on Leith is that it really is about ordinary people. Not the kind of 'ordinary' you usually see in TV and film: twenty-somethings with great jobs (that are never quite explained) and an unlimited money supply. Or poor people depicted as miserable and usually criminal. Refreshingly, the four young leads of Sunshine on Leith are nurses and soldiers-turned call-centre-agents. Most of them still live with their parents. They don't have a lot of money and they don't know yet what their futures will be like, but they're still pretty happy and normal, and able to get on with their lives.
This is a sweet, romantic film with some serious and slightly political undertones (about the war and stuff, although I think there's more of that in the stage play). Edinburgh looks beautiful and the cast are good too, including Jane Horrocks (Little Voice, Chicken Run) and Peter Mullan (Braveheart, Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows: Part 1) as Liz and Davy's mum and dad. The real draw, though, is the songs: super catchy, a bit folksy and mostly up-beat (although the slow ones are lovely too). On first watch the film itself didn't impress me as much as the soundtrack, but it grows on you, and has since become one of my favourites. Although I wish they'd put in Throw the R away (which is one of the songs in the stage show.) So catchy! Anyway, whether you're a Proclaimers fan or just like the sound of a modern Scottish musical, why not give Sunshine on Leith a try? It's not the best film in the world, but it's good fun.
(SPOILERS in trailer - as always!)