Sunshine on Leith (2013)
The movie starts in wartime, with soldiers scared inside a transport vehicle. After establishing a somber mood, one soldier begins to sing..
It could be tomorrow, or it could be today
When the sky takes the soul
The earth takes the clay
This was my first bit of magic. Dexter Fletcher doesn't set his film in some fantastical alternate reality like The Greatest Showman or Across the Universe - remember the grotesque military scene in that film? - and he doesn't keep it grounded in grit like Once. Fletcher makes both work for him, like Hair where the horses carrying Central Park policeman start to dance to the hippies music. The transitions between reality and musical theater are far more seamless than you usually see. Two soldiers holding a conversation suddenly break into dance. Even a pub gathering doesn't become a simple drunken singalong. It goes from a tray of shots at an intimate table to the whole pub engaged so smoothly you don't even notice the transition.
That pub song ("Over and Done With") gets the most reprisals and forms the spine of the score, but you will probably recognize another tune. The songs are by the Scottish duo The Proclaimers, largely known as one-hit wonders for "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)". The film doesn't make that tune the centerpiece, but instead it's the one you wait for, unleashing it at just the right moment when there's emotion to build it up.
When I wake up, well I know I'm gonna be,
I'm gonna be the man who wakes up next you
When I go out, yeah I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who goes along with you.
It's a simplistic tune, as are most of the numbers here. Likable but lacking. This is the movie's problem too. It's a crowd pleaser, no doubt about it. I watched with smiles and happiness, but I haven't seen a story this thin since Gene Kelly retired. It's the story of two young couples and one set of parents (Jane Horrocks and Peter Mullan... and yes, he does sing.) There's love and conflict(?), and for how little happens it's a credit to the actors that my thoughts never went elsewhere. Besides, it's a Scottish musical, which made it culturally unique. A Discovery for all it does right, downplaying what it doesn't do enough of.RATING: ★ ★ ★ - Good