Review: ‘Sunshine on Leith’ (PG) *** and a half

AFTER service in Afghanistan, Harry (Jason Flemyng) and his closest pal Dave (George MacKay) return to civilian life in Edinburgh to the joy of Harry’s parents Rab (Peter Mullan) and Jean (Jane Horrocks) and his winsome sister Liz (Freya Mavor) whose best pal is Yvonne (Antonia Thomas).

Sunshine-on-LeithThose six characters play out the core of this joyous, charming yet complex tale of simple folk dealing with issues such as those confronting us all at some point in our lives.

The film’s origins are 13 songs by Craig and Charlie Reid who for three decades have performed in and around Leith as the Proclaimers. Playwright Stephen Greenhorn adapted the songs into a stage play that director Dexter Fletcher expanded into this film.

The film’s myriad satisfactions remind us that Scottish cinema can yield more than Irvine Welsh’s “Trainspotting” or “Filth”. The film doesn’t actually go to Leith, Edinburgh’s port area, but its views of the city from elevated vantage points and buildings are delightful.

So too are the performances from not only the six principals but also a fine collection of local folk in supporting roles. The narrative is comfortable and credible. The musicality fits the plot like a glove, the singing robust, delicate or plaintive as the lyrics require.

And then there is Jane Horrocks as Jean. Forget about “Ab Fab’s” daffy Bubble. This cracker performance drives the film’s humanity in an unexpected way.

At Palace Electric, Dendy and Capitol 6

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