Complete A-Z list

Angel's Share, The


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

Director: Ken Loach

Paul Laverty’s screenplay for Even the Rain managed to ruin the fascinating making-of-a-movie movie by adding tub-thumping political content. This particular approach is something of a Laverty trademark when he comes to write screenplays for his regular collaborator Loach. Which makes this surprisingly funny (for Loach) shaggy whisky comedy all the funnier, since here Laverty sticks to creating likeable characters and, better still, scripting a thoroughly enjoyable comedy without injecting his usual dose of left-wing politicizing.

Result? A real, unexpected pleasure featuring the kind of comic characters that (apart from their constant use of bad language – apparently filthy words had to be deleted in order for the film to be awarded a ‘15’ certificate instead of an ’18' although no doubt the full four-letter spate will be retrieved if Channel 4 decide to make The Angel’s Share their Christmas Day film) would not have been too far out of place in a Ealing comedy. Whisky Rampant, perhaps?

First time screen actor Brannigan does well as a teenage tearaway who, having become a father and managing to get away in court with community service rather than a jail sentence, unexpectedly discovers after a tour of a distiller that he has a nose for good whisky. Which is despite having asked, “Can I have some Coke in that?” after taking his first sip of whisky.

Crime takes first place when Brannigan and his equally skewed fellow community servers decide to make themselves a fortune by stealing one of the world’s finest and rarest malt whiskies which, against the odds, they succeed in doing. And in the course of their loony larcenous exploits, they raised laughs and my spirits almost constantly.

The Angel’s Share never outstays its welcome. Its daffy protagonists on both sides of the law are nicely cast, well played and a pleasure to watch.

On the evidence of this, Loach would do himself – and us – a service by concentrating on comedy in future.

One thing worth mentioning, though: at Cannes, where it deservedly won the Jury Prize, the film was shown with English (and French) subtitles. Non-Scottish speakers might find themselves wishing it had been subtitled in English here as well.

And, something rare in British cinema, it's a film whose Lottery funding is eminently well-deserved.

Alan Frank

UK/France 2012. UK Distributor: Entertainment-One UK. Colour by deluxe.
101 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 03 Jun 2012