The Angels' Share


Reviewed by: Donald Munro

The Angel's Share
"One of The Angels' Share's strongest points is the way the script and the actors capture natural language."

The Angels' Share takes its name form the portion of whisky that is lost to evaporation during the ageing process. The film is cocktail of comedy and heist with a large shot of social realism. In it, four friends who meet while serving a community sentence attempt to liberate some rare and very expensive whisky from an auction at a distillery.

The film opens with each of the four - Robbie (Paul Brannigan), Albert (Gary Maitland), Mo (Jasmin Riggins) and Rhino (William Ruane) - having their sentences handed down in a Glasgow courtroom. Of the four, Robbie is in the worst position. One more brush with the law and he will receive a custodial sentence. He can't escape from his environment or his family's past so prison seems an inevitability. His girlfriend Leonie (Siobhan Reilly) is pregnant so he can't afford to be jailed.

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The group's supervisor Harry (John Henshaw) is a whisky buff. After Robbie's son is born Harry pours Robbie a glass and toasts the birth, which starts the four on a road of discovery and then to a theft big enough to change their position in life.

Despite this being a heartwarming comedy, one of its central themes is the way in which poverty traps people. A portion of society is just lost. Low educational attainment, a chaotic childhood, a history of criminality or just the way you speak ensures stunted life chances.

One of The Angels' Share's strongest points is the way the script and the actors capture natural language. It always sounds Glaswegian. It doesn't shy away from the way people actually speak, not just in its use of vocabulary but in the way humour and character come across. As in his previous films, Loach mixes new actors with experienced ones to great effect. The main actors all put in natural and highly believable performances.

In terms of cinematography, nothing in particular jumps out as being amazing. This is in keeping with the character of the film. Inventive cityscapes and stunning landscapes would alter the focus of the story. Glasgow is not as well captured as it could be. If it were then the greenness and openness of the city wouldn't contrast so much with the countryside of Highlands. The film does however hint at Glasgow's odd juxtaposition of affluence and poverty.

One thing that detracts from a highly enjoyable film is that some of the scenes around whisky tasting and distilleries drag a little. The faux Scottishness of kilts and tartans is tedious and touristy. But overall, this is a well crafted film that doesn't need much added to it. No ice - perhaps just a little drop of water.

Reviewed on: 31 May 2012
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A group of young offenders doing community service find inspiration in whisky.
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Director: Ken Loach

Writer: Paul Laverty

Starring: Paul Brannigan, John Henshaw, Gary Maitland, Jasmin Riggins, William Ruane, Roger Allam, Siobhan Reilly

Year: 2012

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, France


SSFF 2012

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