KEN Loach is a renowned veteran English film director, know for his social realist style and his championing of the underdog.
Many of his films tackle social issues and although he has never had (nor would he probably want to have) a major Hollywood blockbuster, his films have been a constant presence at prestigious events like the Cannes Film Festival over the years.
In his latest offering he has once again teamed up with Scottish scriptwriter Paul Laverty with whom he has collaborated on several movies including the comedy Looking For Eric starring French footballing star Eric Cantona.
The Angels’ Share is set amongst the grim, urban decay of Glasgow’s rough, working class estates and although Loach never shies away from the reality of life, this is a very, very funny film, probably the funniest of his career.
Robbie is a young thug, destined to be marooned in a morass of crime, drugs and prison but when his girlfriend gives birth to baby Luke, he realises that he has one final chance to break away and give his son the sort of opportunities he never had.
In between trying to body swerve his nemeses Clancy who wants to put into hospital or an early grave, Robbie meets up with fellow deadbeats Rhino, Albert and Mo whilst doing community service.
It is at this stage that ‘turning to drink’ changes Robbie’s life. Community worker Harry introduces the quartet to the delights of whisky and takes them to visit a local distillery during which Robbie discovers he has a ‘nose’ for the drink.
What follows is the perfect match – a whimsical, joyful comedy, expertly intertwined with Loach’s trademark acute observation of the desolation felt by society’s underclass.
The plot takes on a crackpot heist element, almost Ealing comedy in style, which involves a very expensive barrel of whisky and in turn provides the perfect vehicle for a cast of unknowns, especially Paul Brannigan in his first ever acting role, to shine
Brannigan was apparently expelled from school at 14 and had served time in prison. He was spotted by Laverty at a police violence reduction unit but his natural under-stated performance, resonates throughout the film.
After watching The Angels’ Share, you leave the cinema with a deliciously warm, glow inside you – the sort of feeling you get after drinking a really good malt whisky.