Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Ken Loach’s The Angel’s Share
can always count on distillers for a lyrical turn of phrase. In their parlance, the vintage whiskey lost
in the barrel to evaporation is called the “Angels’ share.” It is hard to anticipate how much those
angels will partake. This opens the door
for an unlikely scheme in Ken Loach’s working class comedy The Angels’ Share (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.
has a temper and a pregnant girl friend.
The former almost gets him sent to prison, but the latter helps keep him
out. Sentenced to community service,
Robbie falls under the supervision of Harry, an understanding middle-aged volunteer. Through Harry’s friendship, Robbie discovers
he has a nose, if not necessarily a taste for fine malt whiskey. He also learns of an upcoming auction of one
of the rarest vintages ever distilled in Scotland. With the dubious assistance of three losers
from his community service, Robbie intends to nick a bit of the angels’ share.
widely accessible Share follows in
the tradition of Loach’s Looking for Eric. It is a crowd-pleasing comedy, but it remains
faithful to filmmaker’s proletarian aesthetic.
Indeed, Loach takes his time, establishing his characters and their lack
of prospects before launching into the caper.
Yet, it is nowhere near as didactic as his socialist social issues
dramas, which is a major reason why Share
is so much more entertaining.
looking the part of a troubled young man, Paul Brannigan has genuine screen
presence as Robbie. The audience can
sense there is a real fire within him, in both good and bad ways. John Henshaw is also quite appealingly
down-to-earth and humane as Harry.
Veteran character actor Roger Allam (recognizable from Endeavour, The Thick of It, and Parade’s End) adds a welcome splash of roguish
sophistication as the mysterious whiskey broker, Thaddeus. Unfortunately, Robbie’s three co-conspirators
largely come across like recycled stock characters from previous Loach films,
but even at their most exaggerated, they cannot undermine the film’s charm.
stakes are considerable and the milieu is rather grim throughout Share.
Yet, it is an enormously satisfying, perfectly titled film. A “feel good movie” does not adequately
describe it. “Feel giddy” comes
closer. Naturalistic yet uplifting and consistently
funny, The Angels’ Share is enthusiastically
recommended for general audiences even more than Loach’s usual admirers when it
opens this Friday (4/12) in New York at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema.
Labels: Caper movies, Ken Loach