Does the sun ever shine on Leith? It is an interesting metaphysical question. The Proclaimers certainly seem to think so – and have celebrated both their songs and the city of Edinburgh with this musical, based on their previous successful stage production (for non Edinburghers, Leith is the dockland area of the city). There are six central characters – two young men Davy and Ally (George MacKay and Kevin Guthrie respectively) returning from military operations in the Middle East, Davy’s sister Liz (Freya Mavor) and her pal from England Yvonne (Antonia Thomas), and the sibling’s parents Rab and Jean, played by Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks, who are about to celebrate their twenty fifth wedding anniversary.
Initially we are confronted by a war scene, and the effects from this underlie much of the ensuing drama, but for the most part returning to Edinburgh sees the story become all sunshine and rainbows and it is not until areas of conflict arise half way through that it starts to become more interesting. There is a freshness to the acting, although inexperience does show through for some of the youngsters, but in the musical department, which matters most, this shouldn’t disappoint. Even Jason Flemyng, close pal of director Dexter Fletcher and often appearing in the same films as him, manages to belt out a brief number with enough gusto to be charming and cover up the fact that he is probably not a regular at the karaoke machine.
Overall the film is fun and likeable, but it’s lacking any major gravitas. It is, however, very successful at showing off the city of Edinburgh – in fact for possibly the first time in history the city features as the main setting for two major feature films screening in cinemas at the same time, this and ‘Filth’, although they are somewhat juxtaposed together. I believe the reason for this is the Scottish government’s decision to offer a tax incentive to film companies, so probably we can look forward to seeing more of Scotland on the big-screen (there are several more recent films that have made use of this, such as ‘World War Z’, ‘Fast & Furious 6’ and the opening plane hijacking sequence in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ filmed around Inverness).
Oddly, The Red Dragon himself was in the crowd for the climatic scene of this film – shot between the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Gallery on Princes Street. Sadly, I believe they edited out the reels of people screaming in horror …