The Angels’ Share



Robbie knows he's got the change his life around.

I sometimes have a wee nightmare, I go to see the latest movie directed by Ken Loach and leave the cinema not likening it and then I wake up in a cold sweat!!! Well thankfully it’s never actually happened and his latest collaboration with screenwriter Paul Laverty The Angels’ Share (2012) did not let me down. In fact it’s like a cool breathe of fresh movie air and if someone tells you they did not like it they must be dead from the heart upwards. This Scottish comedy drama, filmed in Glasgow and Edinburgh, is a glorious mix of Sweet Sixteen (2002) My Name is Joe (1998) A Fond Kiss (2004) and Looking for Eric (2009) hilariously topped off with humour that can only come from the Glaswegian working class, a complete change from the dream team’s last offering, the drama/thriller Route Irish (2010) which explored the corporate greed and corruption involved with the private military company’s (PMC’s) working in Iraq.

Ken Loach was quoted as saying that because the number of unemployed young people in Britain has reached over a million for the first time he wanted to tell a story about this generation, a lot of whom will face a bleak future. A generation that can be pretty sure, unless of course something really revolutionary happens, that they will never get a permanent secure job. He wanted to show the effect of this on people and how they see themselves. The delightful notion of the ‘Angels Share’ is the distiller’s term for the percentage of the whisky that vaporises as it matures in the cask never to be drunk and never destined to give the taxman his revenue.

A community service day trip.

When Robbie Emerson sneaks into the maternity hospital and sees his newborn son Luke for the first time he knows his life has got to change. He’s unemployed and carrying out community service but his main problem is staying out of prison where he will be sent should he get involved with any more violent assaults which is not as easy as it sounds with his girlfriend Leone’s family not wanting him to have anything to do with her or the baby and on top of that there’s an on going feud with Clancy and his cohorts, the reason he got community service in the first place. On community service Robbie meets Rhino, Albert and Mo who are under the guidance of Harry, a whisky connoisseur who takes this butch of ne’er-do-wells to a whisky distillery where Robbie finds he has a nose for the stuff, can this discovery change his life?  

Maybe this wee dram will help to change Robbie's life? 

As normal the movie does not star any big bankable artists and I can assure you it’s none the worse for it. The most experienced is TV actor John Henshaw who plays Harry, his second film for Loach; in Looking for Eric he played Meatballs. Newcomer Paul Brannigan plays Robbie, Gary Maitland who had small parts in Sweet Sixteen and Tickets (2005) plays Albert, Jasmin Riggins is Mo her biggest part to date and William Ruane who can be seen in three other of the directors films Sweet Sixteen, Tickets and The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006) plays Rhino.

Albert and Mo should not mess with the Irn-Bru!

Ken Loach and the feel good factor sounds somewhat of a contradiction but these of us who are familiar with the great mans work may disagree. Admittedly his body of work deals with serious subjects and themes but in all his production’s there’s always an element of humour but The Angels’ Share is probable his second all out comedy after Looking for Ericwhich teamed former professional footballer Eric Cantona and Steve Evets to great effect. My only complaint is the use of the dreadful Reid brothers, not once but twice, on the soundtrack still it just proves that Ken’s human.

As a matter of interest the films distributor Entertainment One marketed the film differently in Scotland than it did south of the border. Here it was deemed to be a mainstream comedy and advertised as such holding its own against the normal multiplex offerings as well as showing at art-house theatres, where in England it mainly appealed to art-house audiences. Originally the BBFC awarded it an 18 certificate because of the excessive use of the ‘c’ word normally limited to five in a 15 certificate (seven in this film). The distributors got around this by arguing that in Glasgow, and the way it was used in the film, doesn’t carry the same level of offence and could even be an endearment, eventually gaining it’s 15 certificate which in turn widened its audience base[1].



[1] Information from Charles Gant – Sight and Sound.