The Angels’ Share
Paul Brannigan, John Henshaw, Gary Maitland
Director: Ken Loach
Ken Loach’s cinematic career has always had realism as its driving force, along with his ability to present characters the audience can instantly warm to, despite whatever misgivings we might have about their morals, actions or motivations.
The Angels’ Share is no exception. While it’s mostly made of lighter stuff than the director’s more overtly political work (Riff-Raff, The Wind that Shakes the Barley), there are flashes of Loach’s trademark style that see even the film’s funnier interludes arriving with rough edges.
Here, the British filmmaker focuses his attention on a band of young Scottish misfits, all hauled up in front of the courts for misdemeanours which run the gamut from the frivolous to the frightening.
Chief among them is a young man, Robbie (played by the superb Paul Brannigan), infamous for his violent outbursts, but who is looking to turn over a new leaf and escape from a past that seems to shadow his every movement. Robbie finds a way out – as do his friends – thanks to the intervention of a thoughtful community service supervisor (John Henshaw) and to a scheme he inadvertently leads them to that involves a cask of rare whiskey.
In the end, Roach’s production is feel-good in every sense of the phrase, with your spirits raised by everything from the unlikely bonds formed between the youngsters, to the stunning Scottish scenery.
But Loach wouldn’t be the filmmaker he is without also providing social insights, injected from time to time by the framing of his landscapes, when they are gritty and urban, and by the support cast with whom he fills those frames.
There are flashes of what life is really like and there’s a bleakness surrounding the day-to-day routine that makes us will Roach’s characters on towards some sort of escape, or redemption, at every turn.
But there’s also a joy to be found in Roach’s reflections on the everyday struggles of ordinary people and happiness to be shared as they work their way towards their triumphs.
Extras: deleted scenes, making of featurette … and English subtitles for the brogue-impaired.