Title: The Angels’ Share
Country: UK, France
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Ken Loach
Writer: Paul Laverty
It has been only my second Ken Loach’s film I’ve seen so far (after his Palme d’Or winner THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY 2006), and I’m in no place to expound how different it is from his (usually) politically-sensitive drama pieces, but one sure thing is this time the tonal shift is too prominent to ignore, an uplifting comedy vibrates with youthful restlessness and intersperses with vulgar but rib-tickling gags (inclusively transmitted by the f-words spouting Gary Maitland), the pertinent caricature on the snobbery of pursuing the exorbitant the-best-whiskey-in-the-world (Americans will not be pleased in this paragraph); and what’s more precious is that it implements a magnificent positive message to encourage people in misery to seek their own subjective alternative to break out the status quo, which could evoke a universal empathy all over the map.
Started with a violent and bleak milieu, Robbie is a young petty criminal who becomes a father for the first time, after narrowly getting away from jail time, he is serving the community service order, the first half of the film is dispatched with many grim gambits with the opponents’ retaliative assault, the point-blank confrontation between him and the victim’s whole family, the tension between him and his girlfriend and insults from his girlfriend’s father. Everyone deserves a second chance, and Robbie knows it may be his last one, after befriends with the community service officer who is a wine epicure, Robbie sees the light of his life from the newly-discovered barrel of an out-of-the-world whiskey, he details a bold plan which may rescue him and his friends from poverty and desperation. From that point, the film leans on a bit rosier rhythm to unravel Robbie’s ruse with laughters, suspense and accidents (also kilts) abound.
First-time actor Paul Brannigan is quite instrumental in depicting Robbie’s unassuming wit, at first, he has a shadowy look with the scar on the face signposts his rebellious nature, the first impression has gradually altered halfway through, when audience realize what is in his mind, the anticipation rockets high and Ken Loach doesn’t cringe at simplifying the heist to an even unrealistic scenario (not one single sentinel to guard the million-pounds-baby?), at the core of a refreshing salvation comedy, it is swiftly done, efficient and brisk. 8 out of 10 may be a bit overrated, but I believe one should always have mercy towards comedy genre (especially now, a brilliant one is like gold dust), with Ken Loach at the helm, it would be more reverent!