Starring: Jason Flemyng, George MacKay, Peter Mullan, Antonia Thomas, Freya Mavor, Jane Horrocks, Paul Brannigan, Kevin Guthrie, Daniela Nardini
Sunshine On Leith is based on the sensational stage hit of the same name, featuring music by pop-folk band The Proclaimers. The film follows the stories of Davy and Ally, who have to re-learn how to live life in Edinburgh after coming home from serving in Afghanistan. Both struggle to learn to live a life outside the army and to deal with the everyday struggles of family, jobs and relationships.
Thus the central characters — two returning soldiers — start their new lives post army with a rousing chorus of I’m On My Way.
One is encouraged to propose to his girlfriend in a raucous rendition of Let’s Get Married. And one character considers a new career in Florida, provoking an all-cast performance of Letter From America.
But it’s less cheesy than you’d think. The natural performances of the young cast — and wide eyed encouragement of hundreds of extras — lending it all a charm and loveliness lacking in so many bigger budget movies.
It’s not all sunshine, though, and the drama is beautifully handled by both Jane Horrocks — a veteran of musical performance — and Peter Mullan — who’s not. Despite that, his growling vocals are a high point of the film, the sort of natural bursting into song we’d all like to think ourselves capable of.
The closing scenes involving a 500-strong, all-singing, all-dancing chorus, singing what else but 500 Miles, is probably worth the ticket price alone.
It is a really hard job to produce a good musical, as it can so easily look amateurish. Mamma Mia! succeeded, and so does Sunshine On Leith. The locations were superb, especially the closing scene where it appeared as though all of the population of Edinburgh was present and joining in.
Justin And The Knights Of Valour (PG)
Voices of: Antonio Banderas, James Cosmo, Michael Culkin
Justin lives in a kingdom where bureaucrats rule and knights have been ousted. His dream is to be become one of the Knights of Valour, like his grandfather was, but his father wants his son to become a lawyer.
A Spanish production featuring a veritable hall of fame of “voice talents”, this disappointing CG animation fails to capture the sense of fairytale wonder that its narrative requires.
Blue Jasmine (12A)
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy
Diffident shy young Englishman meets confident American beauty in Richard Curtis’s latest romcom. It could be Love Actually and Four Weddings rolled into one, except the hero can time travel.
Curtis lovers will ooh and ahh at this latest (some say his last) directorial project.
Starring: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth and Olivia Wilde
Frost/Nixon’s director and scriptwriter have collaborated again on this story about Niki Lauda and James Hunt’s last big showdown on the race track.
It’s glamorous, it’s dangerous and it’s exciting. What more do you want from a film?
About Time (12A)
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard
Blanchett plays Jasmine, a washed-up and cold-hearted New York socialite who arrives in San Francisco to live with her half-sister after she loses everything.
A brilliant character study, and Blanchett puts in a stunning performance as a deluded, pill-popping and unpredictable woman on the edge of madness. At 77, Woody Allen has still got it.
Kids’ Club: Monsters University 2D (U)
Voices of:Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren
In this prequel to Disney’s Monsters, Inc., we find Mike Wazowski (Crystal) and James ‘Sulley’ Sullivan (Goodman) aspiring to frighten the bejesus out of sleeping children and learning their craft at the Monsters University.
Since Pixar chronicled Mike and Sulley’s later adventures in 2001, animation has advanced considerably, and now Monsters University will truly delight children of all ages.