A comedy soaked in whisky
Director Loach expertly combines comedy with politics in new heist film
The Angels’ Share (2012)
Duration: 106 minutes
Directed by: Ken Loach
Starring: Paul Brannigan, John Henshaw, Gary Maitland, Jasmin Riggins, William Ruane, Roger Allam, Siobhan Reilly, Roderick Cowie
Ken Loach returns to the screen with another film that explores and highlights the desperation of the working man.
However, with The Angels’ Share, the director gives the proceedings a warm and light-hearted touch.
His very likeable Looking For Eric (2009) was in the same vein but here he delivers the goods without the benefit of any big stars.
The director’s ability lies in grasping that raw feel and moulding it into a cinematic experience that is very tangible, entertaining yet socially rich.
The protagonists of The Angels’ Share, which is set in Glasgow, are low-life, petty criminals.
At the start of the film we meet them at Glasgow Sheriff’s Court. Robbie (Paul Brannigan) misses a jail sentence by a hair’s breath.
He is accused of assault but manages to convince the judge that he will change his ways.
The fact that he and his partner Leonie (Siobhan Reilly) are expecting a baby help his cause. Thus he is placed in community service under the supervision of Harry (John Henshaw), who is from Manchester.
Here Robbie makes friends with a group who are very much like him – knee-deep in trouble.
Harry wants the group to reflect on their heritage and takes them to a whisky distillery.
Robbie realises he has a natural talent for identifying all kinds of different whiskys and, together with his gang, concocts a plan that involves some really rare malt whisky... and loads of trouble.
While the plight of the characters, their social backgrounds and the situations they find themselves in are prime material for a doom and gloom scenario, Loach deftly avoids this.
His approach moves in line with the political and cinematic ideals the director has upheld so tightly over the years.
The film is streamlined with hope and a belief that human nature can always overcome the adversities thrown at it.
The acting is very much on the raw side, giving the film an added layer of authenticity.
Brannigan’s character is portrayed excellently as a modern-day Robin Hood.
The fact that Robbie’s new start is envisioned through the taste of malt whisky makes for a very unusual twist to the whole story.
The film’s success would not have been possible without the script of Paul Laverty, Loach’s long-time collaborator. The way he lays out the script makes for a modern-day mix of parable and fable.
The resulting warm-hearted film is a pleasing experience, very much like the rare malt whisky at the centre of the story.