The Angels’ Share
Winter 2013 Features series
April 14, 2013 at 4:00pm
April 14, 2013 at 7:00pm
Directed by Ken Loach
Screenplay by Paul Laverty
Starring Paul Brannigan, John Henshaw and Gary Maitland
Rated NR ·
UK, France, Belgium and Italy
The Angels’ Share
Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, the latest collaboration between director Ken Loach (The Wind that Shakes the Barley, My Name Is Joe) and screenwriter Paul Laverty marks a sharp left turn from the pair’s impassioned, socially conscious examinations of the British underclass. When we are first introduced to the protagonist of The Angels’ Share—Robbie (newcomer Paul Brannigan), a young, intermittently employed Glaswegian with a propensity for violence—he seems little different from the duo’s other rough-hewn working-class characters, but as his story unfolds it takes a decided, and refreshing, turn for the comic.
Determined to straighten out his life and settle down with his pregnant girlfriend (Siobhan Reilly), Robbie narrowly manages to avoid more jail time by agreeing to community service. He is soon befriended by his avuncular supervisor Harry (John Henshaw), a kindly soul who has a connoisseur’s passion for whisky. When Harry takes Robbie and his fellow young offenders Mo (Jasmin Riggins), Rhino (William Ruane) and Albert (Gary Maitland) on an outing to a distillery in the Highlands, Robbie discovers that he has a natural nose for whisky. With his newfound skill, Robbie soon hatches a plan to plunder a few bottles of extremely rare Malt Mill whisky, which would give him and his fellow roughnecks enough money to clear their debts and start afresh. As two percent of every barrel of whisky evaporates over the course of a year—the so-called “angels’ share”—Robbie and his mates reason that it could be put to better use down on earth.
Working wonders with a cast of nonprofessionals and unknowns, and making picturesque use of the lush, rolling Scottish Highlands, Loach transforms grubby realism into sprightly fable. Calling to mind two classic Scottish comedies, Alexander Mackendrick’s Whisky Galore! and Bill Forsyth’s That Sinking Feeling, The Angels’ Share is whimsical, light-hearted and freewheeling—but like any good whisky, it’s still got a bit of a kick.
“Ken Loach’s latest collaboration with screenwriter Paul Laverty is warm, funny and good-natured. It’s a freewheeling social-realist caper—unworldly and at times almost childlike. Loach has for my money found a happy comic register and it is an unfashionably uncynical and unironic kind of comedy. In many ways this is his most relaxed and successful screen offering for some time.” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)