The Angels' Share
If The Angels' Share had been directed by Joe Nobody it wouldn't have received half the press and wouldn't have gotten near Cannes. But Ken Loach is a name director, which can trick one into thinking what's a very average piece of work to be something more. A similar situation arose in 2005 with Cronenberg and the very ordinary action thriller A History Of Violence: 'Tis Cronenberg so 'tis good! No, t'isn't! A History of Violence is an average movie, as is The Angels' Share.
After another street fight, Glaswegian Robbie (Brannigan) narrowly avoids jail and, because his girlfriend is expecting a baby, is determined that this will be the last time he stands before a judge. Sentenced to community service, he meets the kindly Harry (Henshaw), who sees the good in Robbie and introduces him to the delights of whisky. Robbie has a nose for it and Harry takes him tasting sessions in Edinburgh where the kid hatches a plan to lighten a local distillery of its rare and expensive produce…
The title lends itself to the 2% loss of volume during whisky's maturation process, but - and forgive the obvious dig - Loach lost more than that during the writing process. The director has dabbled in frothy fun before with the likes of Looking For Eric but that was given some grounding, concerning itself with the delusions of a depressed man. No such weight is found here - this is conventional stuff from the director of tough social realism like My Name Is Joe.
Apart from the seen-it-before plotting, the main problem with The Angels' Share is Robbie. Robbie's a scumbag and there's no escaping that. He's not even an interesting scumbag. Loach and Laverty presents us with both sides of the Robbie argument, offering up the Bad Robbie - during a powerful scene where Robbie is confronted by a victim of one of his coke-addled violent outbursts, which destroyed the victim's life – and then the Good Robbie – he cries at said meeting. Later this Good Robbie goes about stealing (the heist that takes up the second half of the movie) but that's okay, the movie says, he's stealing from rich people. But Robbie is no Robin Hood and no matter how hard Loach and Laverty work and no matter how often the unknown Brannigan, who does a decent job in the lead role, smiles he's still a scumbag.
Don't be blinded by the name - Loach is a great director but this is ordinary and forgettable fluff.
Review by Gavin Burke | 16:40 | Thursday 24th May 2012 | Movie Review
Ken Loach's latest film is in a similar vein to Looking For Eric but while that film was enjoyably amusing, The Angels' Share relies more on its scruffy Scottish charm but ultimately doesn't really work. The story focuses on a group of likeable if socially maladjusted young offenders who are sentenced to community service. Aided by their kindly supervisor, they find themselves taking a daytrip to a distillery where they learn more about the whisky-making process. They subsequently hatch a plot to pilch some very rare and very expensive whisky, which leads to some comic misadventures. The main problem with the film is the tone - it veers wildly from gritty urban gang conflict to cultured whisky-tasting sessions, with none of the easygoing charm of Looking For Eric. There's also a rather lazy pace to Paul Laverty's script, which never really gets going. Unless you're Scottish, you might be wondering why subtitles aren't supplied as the accents can be hard to understand at times. This is mostly forgettable stuff from a director capable of much greater heights. The Angels' Share is really just for Loach completists.Posted 21:33 | Fri 1st Jun 2012
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