With a heart, a brain and a great sense of humour, Ken Loach’s latest is surprisingly warm and uplifting, without drowning in sentimentality or exploiting the characters and their situation.
Set in Glasgow, The Angels’ Share follows the exploits of Robbie (Paul Brannigan) and his fellow community service sentenced ‘scum’ as they repay their debts to society. A young man with a violent past, Robbie has a newborn to think of and wants to change his ways despite his enemies constantly reminding him that this is an impossible task. But one man believes in Robbie, Harry (John Henshaw), a kind-hearted community service leader who takes Robbie and his mates on an outing to a distillery where Robbie discovers he has a ‘nose’ for discovering quality whiskey. This whiskey trail clears an unlikely path for this bunch of misfits to do something with their lives, although that path isn’t strictly legal. Both the script (from longtime Ken Loach collaborator Paul Laverty) and the direction from the veteran is straight down the line, powerful stuff, as the cast of mainly non-actors is superb, adding grit and heart to this neo-realist drama. The Angels’ Share is also hugely funny (especially Albert (Gary Maitland) as the group’s comic relief go to man) and while it doesn’t shy away from the characters’ misdeeds it shows that there is more to these scumbags than meets the eye.
The Angels’ Share opens Thursday, November 15