SUNSHINE ON LEITH (PG)
HAVING always been a fan of stage musicals, it's exciting to see them adapted for the big screen and following the recent success of Mama Mia and Les Miserables, it's time for a home-grown effort to see if the translation from stage to screen can work as well.
Based on the Dundee Repertory Theatre's huge stage hit, and built around the music of the Proclaimers, the plot is simple.
Davy (George Mackay) and Ally (Kevin Guthrie) are returning to Scotland after serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan and attempting to rebuild their civilian lives.
Ally intends to renew his relationship with Liz, Davy's sister (Freya Mavor), and Davy starts a relationship with Liz's friend Yvonne (Antonia Thomas).
Meanwhile, Davy and Liz's dad (Peter Mullens) is keeping a big secret from their mum (Jane Horrocks) which threatens to end their marriage.
All of this is seamlessly punctuated by the Proclaimers soundtrack, which adds power and punch to the story line.
In fact, the film would have been far less engaging without the musical set pieces, which don't deter but add to the heartwarming, feel-good factor which makes this film such a joy to watch.
And because it's not a Hollywood big bash movie, the working class background sits at the heart of the lives of the characters and adds a gritty realism to proceedings.
So when they suddenly burst into song, it is surprising and effective, if not, perhaps, a little staged.
But there lies the essence of musicals and if you don't accept the concept that characters will suddenly burst into song for no apparent reason, then you will never get the power or the brilliance of the musical concept.
The songs comment on and rubber stamp the emotional turmoil that lies at the heart of the story.
It is basically a tale of love and loss, and writer Stephen Greenhorn has produced a worthy script that holds its emotional power while allowing the songs to do their work inbetween the dialogue.
Seasoned performers Mackay and Horrocks cement it all together and some great casting in the smaller roles means there are no dull moments for your mind to wander or for your interest to be lost. And they all do pretty well with the singing too. Whereas in Les Mis, most of the singing was done live in front of the camera, director Dexter Fletcher (Wild Bill) chose to pre-record all the songs for this movie, and the result sounds good and the recordings well balanced.
When the action lulls into non-musical format, it does get a little cheesy and predictable and you can see the ending (and the final song) coming a mile off but this film has such charm, that it doesn't really matter.
Fans of the Proclamiers may be a little disappointed that some of the deeper themes and resonances of their music were not played to here, but the song choice is fitting for the plot and does not feel as contrived as it should on paper.
If you want a feel-good, spirit-lifting experience, then you could do worse than spend your money on this.