Leither in London – Issue 97

Posted by in October's Magazine

Have you heard of Sunshine on Leith? Well yes of course you have but I’m not talking about the Proclaimers’ album or even the spin-off West End musical – I’m talking about the movie. Yup, Leith has finally had the recognition it deserves earning itself a place on the big screen with an all-singing, all-dancing, all-star cast. Excited? I haven’t even told you the best bit yet…
Guess which prestigious film critic they’re quoting on the movie poster and TV ads? Barry Norman? Pah. Jonathan Ross? Pfft. Claudia Winkelman? Please! No, it’s ME! Who’d have thunk it? Yours truly will appear in the media campaign for what could be the most exciting film release in The Leither’s history. I guess it’s quite fitting really.

I can’t lie though, when the invitation to the screening arrived in my inbox, I was nervous. Was I about to witness a car crash on the big screen? Could they have gone back down the Trainspotting route with another film on Leith’s grubby past? Or would it be Mamma Mia relocated to Edinburgh’s waterfront? Thankfully it was neither.


Sunshine on Leith is an uplifting, upbeat film, impressively directed by Press Gang alumnus Dexter Fletcher, and featuring a cast who can not only act but also hold a tune. The film focuses on two young squaddies, Davy and Ally, returning home to Leith after serving in Afghanistan and trying to adjust back to everyday life. The plot is moulded to fit the soundtrack so without giving too much away, if you ponder the Proclaimers’ biggest hits, you might be able to predict some of the ups and downs they face along the way.
Musical high notes include a stirring rendition of ‘Lets Get Married’ by the lads down the pub (keep your eyes peeled for a brilliant cameo from one of the lads from Edinburgh’s other favourite musical duo, The Cuban Brothers); a heartfelt rendition of ‘Oh Jean’ from Davy’s dad to his conveniently named wife at their anniversary do (set in the salubrious surroundings of Leith Dockers Social Club); and the singing, dancing, flashmob finale that is (naturally) ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’.

On the waterfront
The film could quite easily have gone a step too jazz hands but with respected names like Jane Horrocks and Peter Mullan on board for the ride, the movie gains a certain gravitas – their presence undoubtedly helping Fletcher negotiate the slippery space between grit and Glee. And while the film will surely have the tourist board jumping for joy, I personally don’t think the picture painted of the city is all that different to the reality – at least not in my romantic imagination.

All those sweeping shots of the Edinburgh skyline, Calton Hill and Princes Street Gardens pretty accurately reflect the images that flash up in my own head when I’m indulging in a little yearning for the homeland. In fact, after seeing this movie and skipping out of the cinema to a mental soundtrack of King of the Road, I went straight home and booked myself a train back to the Burgh for the weekend.

I don’t think I’ve been quite so excited to arrive into Waverley station – not least because those pesky tram works were finally gone so, for the first time in a long time, I could walk straight out onto Waverley Bridge and revel in what may be my favourite view of the capital. To the left, the imposing rooftops of the Royal Mile stretching all the way up to the monolithic castle perched majestically atop its volcanic rock. To the right, the lofty peak of Scott monument puncturing a rare bright blue Edinburgh sky. All this was enjoyed to the appropriate soundtrack of the bagpipes being played by the piper on the corner of bustling Princes Street. If I hadn’t been in such a hurry to catch the 22 and get down to Leith, I could happily have stood for hours soaking it all up but I had another thrilling view awaiting my arrival.

It doesn’t matter how long I stay away, when I drive round the corner onto the shore and get that first view of the waterfront, it feels like coming home. Sadly, it was only a fleeting visit this time but I’m working on it…I just have to convince the man I love that a life in Leith could offer us as much in the way of adventure and happiness as a life in Stockholm. My next move is taking him to see Sunshine on Leith when it hits cinemas on 4 October. Wish me luck.

2 responses to “Leither in London – Issue 97”

  1. Shirley Clarke says:

    This was a terrible film. Would have made an quite unwatchable Hogmanay tv special, with the option to flick over to another channel I might put up with it… but as a movie- with all THIS publicity. Really goes to show what an uncreative lot we are.

    Piss weak cinematography, worthless acting in between wonderful proclaimers tunes ripped to shreds by the x-factorisation of popular ears. Why does everyone have to make things accessible and bland.

    Horrified. Can't believe the Leither didn't stand up and say so! I expected you lot to SLATE it / give the film the drubbing it deserved. Guess it gave this author an ego boost! What a waste of time (not to mention money- public / council and otherwise).

  2. Carrie says:

    The idea that The Leither has somehow shown a lack of journalistic integrity by printing a positive review is ridiculous. A 'review' is in essence an opinion – this was mine, you have yours. And The Leither doesn't have a duty to stand by either one.

    As for questioning my own integrity, I reviewed the film BEFORE they asked to use a quote from that review in the marketing material so any suggestion that I praised it because it "gave me an ego boost" doesn't really stand up.

    I wonder why The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Scotsman, The Independent, Empire, Total Film and The FT praised it too? Must be some kind of conspiracy…

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *