Sunshine on Leith

image for Sunshine on Leith

Short takes

Not recommended under 13 (Themes; Violence; Sexual references)

classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Sunshine on Leith
  • a review of Sunshine on Leith completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 May 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to themes, violence and sexual references
Children 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Sunshine on Leith
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, violence and sexual references
Length: 100 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Sunshine on Leith is a musical about two recently discharged British army servicemen who return to their homes and families in Edinburgh after completing a tour in Afghanistan. Ally (Kevin Guthrie) returns to his long-term girlfriend Liz (Freya Mavor), who is a nurse and also the sister of Davy (George MacKay), Ally’s fellow serviceman. Davy is introduced to Liz’s English colleague Yvonne (Antonia Thomas), and the relationship between the two develops into a romance.

The film also follows Davy and Liz’s parents Rab (Peter Mullan) and Jean (Jane Horrocks) who are celebrating their 25th anniversary. Before the celebration, Rab is shocked to receive a letter from a daughter of whom he was previously unaware.

During the anniversary party, Liz turns down a proposal from Ally in front of the large crowd, while Jean finds out about Rab’s earlier infidelity. Fighting ensues, and Yvonne begins to doubt her feelings for Davy after witnessing his aggressive response. The relationships of the three couples are thus under threat and the film follows what happens to each.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Love and friendship; war and sacrifice; personal growth and independence; infidelity

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • As soldiers are travelling in a truck during the war, there are gunshots heard and the screen fades to white. It is presumed that the truck was hit.
  • Davy goes to visit a friend and fellow serviceman of his who is undergoing physical therapy – the soldier has lost both legs, and it is implied that he lost them during the violence of the war.
  • At the party, Ally punches and beats up another man who insults him after Liz turns down his proposal.
  • Davy also gets involved in the fight at the party, and begins shoving another man – he nearly hits Yvonne in the process.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by the violent scenes described above.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by the violent scenes described above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by the violent scenes described above

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are several sexual references within the film, including:

  • Liz tells Yvonne that her date Davy is “just going to be staring at your tits”.
  • While singing karaoke in the bar, one woman stands up and references that it feels as though her “sex life is all history”.
  • Liz drags Ally into a bathroom at the bar, presumably to have sex.
  • Talk about Rab having an affair and a daughter resulting from this.

Nudity and sexual activity

There are several mild instances of sexual activity within the film, including:

  • Liz and Ally share a brief kiss.
  • Yvonne and Davy share a kiss after their date.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in the film, including:

  • Throughout the film, the characters meet up in a bar and have multiple drinks, including shots and beer

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language such as “bloody” and “crap”.

In a nutshell

Sunshine on Leith is a film based on a stage musical that depicts the joys and problems of relationships. It tells the story of a group of individuals who are forced to decide between what they want, what is best for them, and what their loved ones expect of them. It speaks about the importance of freedom, but also highlights the necessity of giving people second chances and learning how to forgive.

Although younger viewers are likely to enjoy the lively musical scenes, the film’s themes, violence and sexual references make it more suitable for a teenage and adult audience.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss:

  • The nature and impact of war, and the heightened awareness that any day could be the last for a soldier.
  • The consequences of infidelity and the difficulties of marriage.
  • Issues of employment and life direction in relation to young adults.