There’s a reason why The Angels’ Share took home the Jury Prize from the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Finally available in the U.S., the film is funny without being forced and endearing without being sappy, almost a novelty nowadays. The movie, from Ken Loach (The Wind That Shakes the Barley), focuses on Robbie (Paul Brannigan), a Scottish juvenile trying to clean up his act after his girlfriend delivers his son. But he’s still got hours of community service to complete to make up for past behavior and a way to figure out a future after a past steeped in violence.
With his father-in-law threatening to beat him if he keeps seeing his daughter and thugs from a previous fight looking to settle a score, community service is actually a relief when Robbie is paired with fellow screw-ups. On a tour of a local distillery, it turns out Robbie has a knack for whiskey tasting. Here’s where the film truly shows its indie roots: when the outcasts decide to steal some very expensive whiskey, typical Hollywood fashion would throw in some ridiculous chase scenes to amp up the tension or add in some slapstick to force laughs. Loach however simply settles for solid storytelling and great acting to move the film along. The result is an engaging take on friendship and redemption: a perfect movie from start to finish.
The Angels’ Share/101 mins./IFC Films and MPI/2013
The Angels’ Share (DVD)