Sunshine on Leith – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

An old school film reel drawn by artist Dean Nelson.

“Sunshine on Leith” will make you question if you are someone who likes musicals, even if you previously said you don’t.

Originally my draw to this film was seeing Antonia Thomas, from Misfits, and Freya Mavor from Generation 3 of Skins. But, somewhere between the trailer, and the first few songs, I fell in love. Mind you, I’m not the biggest lover of musicals, but God does this make me seem like I had no idea what I have been talking about all these years.

Characters & Story

The love lives of three couples are focused on in the film. The first being Jean (Jane Horrocks) and Rab (Peter Mullan). They have been together for 25 years, and a secret from Rab’s past threatens their very foundation and makes Jean wonder if those 25 years were for nothing. The other two relationships deal with Rab and Jean’s kids. Their daughter, Liz (Freya Mavor) is in a relationship with Ally (Kevin Guthrie), who is a veteran deeply in love with this girl. But, a simple yes or no question leads them to possibly falling apart.

Lastly, Liz’s older brother, Davy (George MacKay) also is having some relationship issues. He has a whirlwind romance with Liz’s friend Yvonne (Antonia Thomas), and in a “so…” type moment (in reference to what Jason talks about in “That Awkward Moment”), she tries to understand where she and Davy are going, relationship-wise, and Davy delivers the wrong answer.

As a whole, though, the movie isn’t fully a traditional romantic story, for it deals with constant ups and downs. One moment, you can be deeply envious, and the next moment, things are falling apart, and you begin worrying about what may happen. Then, things turn around, and you get teary-eyed at how cute one of the couples are being. All of this is done with the music of The Proclaimers pushing things along.


First off, I don’t know who The Proclaimers were, but between the soundtrack for the film or a Greatest Hits album, I plan on looking them up. The music is sort of weird and simple, yet so cute and sentimental at the same time, and it really does up the power of the script. In fact, I’d say you’d likely want to download a few of the songs and may even want to perform them with friends, if not adapt them to fit your life. But, really, it is the characters that have me gushing at the seams. Everyone feels like they are fresh out of a classic young adult novel that holds a place in your heart, and from the moment you meet them you want to root for every single one’s happiness.

But, being how the story is, they try to play with your emotions successfully, may I add, and from scene to scene, you can be brought from such giddy joy to wanting to scream at the screen and say, “NOOOOO, YOU IDIOT! WHY DID YOU DO THAT!?” And just the emotional response it can get from you from the first song alone hooks you in.


In all honesty, I am a bit elated by the film, so I don’t see any major flaws as of the posting of this review. I must note, however, that this uses the usual formula of romance films I have been harping on since I started doing reviews. But, I do feel that it compensates by getting you really invested to the point that you don’t really notice it following usual patterns. Outside of that, I will say that I don’t think everyone who sings could make a career out of it, but I do think that the purpose of their singing wasn’t necessarily to sound good but to convey that character’s emotions, so I’ll give them a pass.

But, even with this feeling of elation, I must note that the subplot that dealt with Rab and Eilidh (Sara Vickers) did not get explored as it should have—especially considering its impact on the film.

Overall: Worth Seeing

This is one of the few films, alongside Short Term 12 I am likely to watch again and have my friends see. There are hardly any elements in the film which aren’t cute. Be it the different couples, Ally’s little brother Brendan (John Spence), who was so sweet and cute, and the songs that are slowly getting stuck in my head. This film, for me, will at least be a personal classic. Hence why I say it is worth seeing. For those who haven’t, it is a good movie to watch, and, in general, while not the most complex of motion pictures, it makes up for it in so many ways.

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  1. The review contains an error – all of the songs in “Sunshine On Leith” are by The Proclaimers. None of the songs for this musical were written by The Pretenders.

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