The Angel’s Share

December 24, 2012 at 3:49 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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A film about whiskey – well not really; The Ken Loach directed The Angel’s Share is about people trying to make the best of a bad situation, though there is whiskey. There is an element of a road-film to it as well, though the trip is not the main dramatic vehicle.

Robbie – played by Paul Brannigan – is a young man with a very troubled past and not many prospects of a future. He has just avoided a long stretch in jail, but that just leaves him where his enemies can get their hands (chains, knives, bats, etc) on him. He is about to become a father, though his future son’s grandfather has a very low opinion of him – “you useless piece of shite”. Robbie gets community service, where he meets Mo (a kleptomaniac) – Jasmin Riggins, Albert (a clumsy ignoramus) – Gary Maitland, and Rhino (can’t remember) – William Ruane. This unlikely foursome under the supervision of Harry – John Henshaw – repaint community centres and clean-up graffiti.

It is Harry who takes Robbie under his wing, and reluctantly introduces the foursome to whiskey tasting. The film is set in Glasgow, Scotland; it isn’t going to be beer. Besides only vintage whiskey that can command the high prices which will net Robbie enough money to see him to a new life.

The background to the film is a depressing mix of youth violence and not future. When you have no money and no future, the only value you have is ‘honour’, but that just locks you into an inter-generation death spiral. If the youth sub-culture portrayed in this movie is true, God help Scotland.

Robbie becomes a father, and amazingly he gets a grip of his temper and his substance abuse. He wants to be there for his son. Now all he has to do is get the rest of Glasgow to let him change. “With this scar on me face, I can’t get a job – I can’t even get an interview!”

Robbie hatches an idea to steal some rare expensive whiskey to provide him with a grub-stake to get out of Glasgow. Thus begins the foursomes’ kilt disguise – they are lowlanders and the three lads have never worn kilts before. A giggling tourist asks Rhino why he wears his backwards!

Albert is the most amusing character – from his barely comprehendible Glaswegian lilt to his complete ignorance of anything: what’s that ? he asks of Edinburgh Castle.

The film presents some interesting moral conundrums: Is it right to steal from the rich? Is there a greater good for which small mis-deeds is acceptable?

This film has one of the grossest sequences I have every seen: on par with the bowl of vomit scene in Bad Taste and making the poop in a hand-basin scene in Bridesmaids look like a biological necessity!

Oh, The Angel’s Share refers to the loss due to evaporation, when the whiskey is sitting in the oak barrels.


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