"Sunshine on Leith" is a wonderful, life affirming film that should be seen by anyone in search of a couple of hours of sheer escape from the cares of the everyday world. And it particularly shouldn't be missed by anyone who has ever hummed along to a Proclaimers song, or by anyone who feels anything at all for the city of Edinburgh which, along with Leith, is every bit as much of a star in this film as the human participants.
Having said that, the cast is superb. George MacKay, Antonia Thomas, Freya Mavor and Kevin Guthrie play the two younger couples, while Jane Horrocks and Peter Mullan play the mother and father, who have issues of their own that nicely counterbalance those of the younger generation. Jane Horrocks' performance is especially worthy of mention. In many ways the whole plot revolves around her character and her ability to totally convince when cast as a Scot is extremely impressive.
You'll have heard "Sunshine on Leith" likened to a Scottish "Mamma Mia", and for anyone seeing the film the comparison is inevitable. The plot is moved along by the music, in this case the music of the Proclaimers, and the emotional twists and turns have a slightly familiar feel. But the comparison only carries you so far, mainly because "Sunshine on Leith" is quite simply a far better film than "Mamma Mia". The storyline is more engaging, and the characters are much more convincing. It also helps that all the actors can bang out a tune in a way that consistently inspires the smiles and tears the director intended, with no wincing necessary.
While we're making comparisons, in some ways "Sunshine on Leith" is also oddly reminiscent of "The Full Monty". There is an endearing grittiness to the storyline and characterisation that bears comparison, and the starring role of the host city, in this case Edinburgh rather than Sheffield, also gives rise to an echo of the earlier film. But at the end of the day, you don't really need to know what other film "Sunshine on Leith" is or isn't like, all you really need to know is that if you invest your time and the admission fee in seeing it you are unlikely to be disappointed.