REVIEW: Sunshine on Leith PG, 100 mins, Chichester Cineworld

Sunshine on Leith is one of those lovely films that plants a big grin on your face in the opening moments and leaves it there until the credits roll.

There is war in this Proclaimers-inspired musical; there is heartbreak, there is infidelity, and there is even the sudden reappearance of a long-lost daughter.

Sunshine on Leith

Sunshine on Leith

But none of it packs much of an emotional punch in a film much more interested in the kind of breezy superficialities which made Mama Mia so endearing.

With its tale of two soldiers returning home from Afghanistan, you get the feeling that Sunshine on Leith really ought to have a stronger connection with the 
real world than it actually has, particularly when it tries to heap up a tick list of emotional traumas for all concerned.

But its charm is that it glosses over everything in a tale in which no-one is ever more than a moment away from breaking into song, whether they be in their bedroom, down in the tube station, in the pub, in the art gallery or simply wandering the streets of Edinburgh. They’re having a ball, and it’s easy to join in.

Time and again it’s a film which grabs you with its easy appeal and joie de vivre – even if you can’t help feeling it’s probably a co-production with the Scottish Tourist Board, proof they do smile north of the border.

Ally (Kevin Guthrie) and Davy (George MacKay) are the returning soldiers. Ally goes out with Davy’s sister, Liz (Freya Mavor), who introduces her brother to Yvonne (Antonia Thomas). But you know the course of true love won’t run smooth. Meanwhile, Liz and Davy’s parents, Jean (Jane Horrocks) and Rab (Peter Mullan) are battling with a few skeletons in Rab’s dodgy past.

Jean is the one character that grates, just too wholesome and mumsy; but otherwise it’s a sheer delight to spend time with the lot of them as they sing and dance their way through unseasonable weather.

Phil Hewitt