Directed by: Ken Loach
Produced by: Rebecca O'Brien
Screenplay by: Paul Laverty
Starring: Paul Brannigan
Music by: George Fenton
Cinematography by: Robbie Ryan
Editing by: Jonathan Morris
Studio(s): Sixteen Films
Why Not Productions
Distributed by: Entertainment One
Release date(s): May, 2012 (Cannes Film Festival)
June 1, 2012 (United Kingdom)
Running time: 106 minutes
Country(s): United Kingdom
Don't take my lazy day off yesterday as a sign that I'm slowing down. Oh, hell no, I'm two (technically three) reviews into the year, and I've got plenty more to go. On a side note, I'm perfectly fine rambling to myself and not having anyone comment on my posts, but if you are posting, I'd prefer if you didn't post about Air Ambulance, washing machines etc. And here's a call-out: 'adamminh89,' posting hyperlinks under the name 'hfgxhgh,' looks to be a dirty rotten scammer. I've did my homework, and this S.O.B. joined at least ten different sites on the same day. On virtually, a 'service' is offered for a price of $5. Basically, this is a cheap and easy was to get into people's bank accounts and get a little at a time. I've commented to this 'person' before, and they've never got back, so I've come my conclusions. Piss off of my blog, you dirty scamming bastard! Wow, just looked back, didn't realise my rant went on that long!
Anyway, dirty laundry aired, lets get down to the movie. The Angels' Share is the new movie by Ken Loach, which debuted at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and went home with the Jury Prize. Once again teaming Loach with regular screenwriter/collaborator Paul Laverty, it sees the two return to Looking For Eric territory after his previous film, the thriller Route Irish. Opening with the drunk Albert (Gary Maitland) nearly getting hit by a train, we follow the lives of a number of people, most notably Robbie (Paul Brannigan), who have been sentenced to community payback. Under the supervision of Harry (John Henshaw), he decides to reward good behaviour with a trip a whiskey distillery, and from here, they become involved in a plot involving a cask of priceless whiskey. I'm cutting it off at that for want of a lack of plot spoilers.
To start with the good (of which there is a good amount), Loach always seems to have a good eye for casting. As with many of his productions, many of the actors are non-proffesionals, yet seem to their roles to a tie. Paul Brannigan is highly likeable as Robbie, anchoring the film and legitimately inviting the audiences sympathies. It's a raw, naturalistic performance, and he conveys an appropriate range of emotions that are relevant to what his character is feeling. Also good is John Henshaw, who is a thoroughly endearing surrogate father-figure for Robbie's character, and makes the most of his screen time. Many of the actors in minor roles are good, but Gary Maitland's Albert, who could have been comic fodder in another picture, is a raucous character, talking dribble and getting up to all sorts. Maitland elevates him beyond the stock character level and makes him memorable. Paul Laverty has a way of making these 'characters' seem like real human beings, and whenever that is spliced with Loach's casting of amateurs, it works to great effect. Also, tonally The Angels' Share is an interesting work of Laverty's. He is a fine judge of the line between comedy and drama. The tone remains entertaining and funny throughout, yet the social realism hits home hard and is surprisingly tense and effective. Finally, Ken Loach is a director who exhibits control. Handling the reigns well and ensuring that the film maintains a brisk, energetic pace, with the cinematography and editing benefitting from his presence. It is a testament to his skill as a director that he is able to stay relevant and make such a youthful film.
The Angels' Share is a raucous and wildly funny film, but it has a number of flaws which deny it from being a great film. George Fenton's score, though bouncy and charming, is most definitely overused. There are a number of scenes where silence would indeed be golden. Instead of letting the actors play out the scene and the things that they are (successfully) trying to get across, we have repeated interjections with acoustic instruments. I wouldn't quite call this an appearance of the EHO (Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra: too low-key for 'Orchestra), but there is a bit too much of telling me how I should feel. Also, Paul Laverty's script, though engaging and entertaining, has issues. The film is concluded way too quickly, and (not to give too much away) it has the feeling of a rushed, poorly judged deus ex machina. If the audience is to be taken on this emotional journey, give us some time to appropriately register the film's denouement.
Despite being hampered a badly judged and rushed deus ex machina and an intrusive score, The Angels' Share is a very good film. I had two ulcers on my top lip, so laughing was rather painful, but I found myself doing it nevertheless. It's a highly likeable film with a likeable cast, particularly Brannigan and Henshaw. Also, while the ending is a botch job, Laverty knows how to make a social realist story very entertaining. Finally, the great Ken Loach directs with such youthful vibrancy that one can't help but be charmed by this film.
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.9/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Stuffed (so says my nose)