Taylor (Hannah Arterton) flies to Puglia, Italy to join her sister Maddie (Annabel Scholey) for a girlie holiday. When she arrives Taylor is reminded of her holiday fling in the town 3 years ago, and she wonders if Raf (Giulio Berruti) still thinks of her. When Maddie announces she is getting married however, Taylor’s question is answered… Maddie’s husband to be is Taylor’s former love.
As the title suggests, Walking on Sunshine is a feel good, sun filled movie, which also happens to be Jukebox Musical, crammed with the biggest and cheesiest hits of the 1980s. Gemma Arterton’s little sister Hannah takes the lead here; she is sweet and light, and has a lovely singing voice. In fact, the same goes for much of the cast, who show off their skills at singing and dancing, but are never really given the chance to develop their characters very far. Everyone is pretty – even the token quirky friends – and there is always the feeling that things will work out for the best. Leona Lewis deserves a mention, making her movie debut in Walking on Sunshine, but mainly sticking to singing, thereby making her character sound good, and not testing the audiences’ patience by being another pop star trying to switch careers.
Screenwriter Joshua St Johnston has woven the biggest hits of the 80s into the screenplay. While the songs are well performed, and are still great tunes, there is the feeling that the story plays second fiddle to hits such as Walking on Sunshine, Venus and Don’t You Want Me. The musical sequences are great fun, but the threads that tie them together are thin at best.
Directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini also seem to forget that there is a story at the heart of Walking on Sunshine, meaning the showstoppers are huge and fun – if a little cringey to begin with – but the scenes with dialogue and no singing are overdone to the point of melodrama, and the actors seem to have been given one word motivations for their characters, such as sleazy, cheesy and smiley. That said, this mostly works for the film, which is a sundrenched romantic musical, and there isn’t much dialogue anyway.
Walking on Sunshine is sparkly and light, and filled with great song and dance numbers. Hannah Arterton is a more than capable leading woman, and Giulio Berruti is a devilishly handsome leading man. The story is thin but the songs are huge, and the fun side of the film just about balances out the melodramatic acting. Not every film is meant to change the world, and Walking on Sunshine may not challenge audiences, but it is cheesy fun that will definitely leave you singing.