Sunday, April 07, 2013

“The Angels’ Share” – Movie Review



This weekend, my movie class had a bonus screening of the new comedy by director Ken Loach, “The Angels’ Share”. 


When a young man with a criminal past becomes a father, he decides to be a more responsible adult to give his new son a better life – but can he pull off one last heist in order to do so?



Robbie has a pretty extensive rap sheet, so it comes as a bit of a surprise when this ex-convict escapes another prison term for his latest escapade, thanks to the generosity of the judge.  Instead, he’s sentenced to community service, along with several other several other loafers who’ve either never held a job or have difficulty keeping the few they do get.  They are sent of to work for Harry, an itinerant laborer in the Glasgow area of Scotland, who has them painting, landscaping and various other tasks. 

When Harry becomes aware that Robbie’s girlfriend Leonie has gone into labor, he accompanies Robbie to the hospital so that he can see her.  However, upon arrival, Robbie is beaten up by some of the male members of Leonie’s family, who threaten him and insist that he have nothing further to do with her because of his background.   Determined to not only see his child but also to have a life with Leonie, Robbie makes a commitment to lead a more admirable life – but with his past, he finds it difficult merely getting a job interview, much less finding employment.  It is at this point that Harry takes him under his wing and befriends him, introducing him to the wonderful world of Scotch whisky. 

Harry brings Robbie to a Scotch tasting in Edinburgh, where Robbie discovers that he’s got a sophisticated palate and olfactory sense when it comes to nosing and tasting a wee dram of The Water Of Life from a Glencairn glass.  While educating himself about whisky, Robbie learns of Malt Mill – a rare and extremely expensive type of Scotch that’s believed to be the best in the world.  Upon hearing that the lone existing cask will soon be auctioned off, Robbie devises a scheme to steal at least some of what’s in that barrel so that he can re-sell it on his own to acquire enough money for he and Leonie to start their new life together.  But can he successfully pull off this heist or will it ultimately land him back in prison? 



If you’ve been reading anything other than my silly-ass movie reviews on this here blog-o-mine, you may have figured out somewhere along the way that I’m something of a whisky aficionado – especially for that peaty stuff that comes out of Scotland.  It is with that in mind that I offer up to you something of a caveat here to advise you of my extreme predilection for the subject matter of “The Angels’ Share”.  Objectivity has rarely been more challenging than when reviewing this movie. 

The Angels’ Share” is a hilarious film and I highly recommend you see it whenever you get a chance.  Even if you aren’t a big fan of whisky, you might like it – especially if you found “Trainspotting” funny.  The majority of the students in my class seemed to enjoy it quite a good deal – and for a nice change of pace, I happened to agree with them.   The writing here – in particular the dialog – is incredibly strong.  It feels extremely realistic in its curt, abrupt and profane way and seems rather natural for the characters. 

One thing I should add about the version of the movie we saw is that it was shown with English subtitles.  I know, this may seem a bit weird since the story takes place in Scotland and the characters are all speaking English already, but believe me, it works.  The accent on the Scottish working class can be so thick as to be almost unintelligible to the American ear, which makes the use of the subtitles a veritable pre-requisite if there’s any hope for success in this country. 


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