Walking away not only with the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival but with a 20 minute standing ovation, Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share had its UK premier in Glasgow on Tuesday.
Newcomer Paul Brannigan plays Robbie. A new dad, he has narrowly avoided a jail sentence in favour of community service hours. Stuck in the same cycle of violence with another local lad and increasingly clashing with his girlfriend’s family, Robbie is noticed by his sympathetic community officer Harry (John Henshaw – Heartbeat/Born and Bred). He introduces Robbie to the world of whiskey, which opens up an unexpected way out of his problems.
The Angels’ Share starts out as a grim look at the life of a violent petty criminal. Which is far from unusual territory for Ken Loach, who is well known for his particular brand of British socialist realism – previous works include The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) and Looking for Eric (2009).
The narrative soon goes off on a bit of a tangent. Turning from gritty reality to something more along the lines of Mission Impossible, assuming here that Mission Impossible was attempted by a couple of Weegie lads (and a lass) in kilts, with Irn Bru bottles instead of high tech gadgets.
With some laugh out loud moments The Angels’ Share is in turns unusual, funny and ultimately heart warming. It doesn’t concentrate on dire reality which Ken Loach fans may well be expecting and slightly disappointed by, but it does give a fair range of realistic characters. If you don’t recognise some of their traits in the people you know, you need to spend more time in Glasgow.
The Angels’ Share is out in cinemas June 1st.