Misery has certainly enjoyed the company of British director Ken Loach.
Over the past 40 years, the award-winning film-maker’s naturalistic portraits of social realism have been drenched in the soured milk of human unkindness. As Loach prepares to turn 76, he is evidently mellowing in old age because ‘The Angels’ Share’ is one of his most upbeat, crowd-pleasing slices of life.
Clearly, the film struck a chord with the esteemed jury in Cannes last weekend – they awarded the feature their coveted prize.
The emphasis in this bittersweet modern-day fable is on the sweet as community service reprobate Robbie (Paul Brannigan) and fellow attendees Albert (Gary Maitland), Rhino (William Ruane) and Mo (Jasmin Riggins) hatch a hare-brained plan to steal four bottles of the most expensive whiskey in the world, rumoured to be worth £1m at auction.
The wastrels already have an eager buyer lined up – connoisseur Thaddeus (Roger Allam) – who will pay handsomely for the intoxicating nectar, which he will then sell on to his wealthy clients. All Robbie and his pals have to do is keep their illegal plan secret from their community service supervisor (John Henshaw) and avoid detection at the highland distillery, where the whisky is under 24-hour guard.
Taking its title from the 2% of whisky that evaporates through an oak cask during the ageing process, ‘The Angels’ Share’ is a heart-warming delight.
Loach distils excellent performances from his ensemble cast and screenwriter Paul Laverty underscores touching sentiment with raw emotion and earthy humour, such as when the lads don kilts for their adventure up north and the traditional attire does not agree with Albert.
“My meat and two veg are taking a hammering here!” he complains bitterly as the heat and his sporran take their toll. Cheers!
Star Rating 4/5