Review: The Angel’s Share (The movie, that is)May 25th, 2012
Today, Whisky Advocate contributor Ian Buxton joins us with a review of The Angel’s Share. The film will open in the UK on June 1st. (To view the trailer, click on the link below.)
Veteran left-wing British film maker Ken Loach is known for his uncompromising approach and the gritty reality of working lives presented in his movies. So it’s no surprise that the opening scenes of his latest offering, The Angel’s Share, feature a court appearance by the main character; some less than appealing images of Glasgow’s decaying housing projects and an unhealthy dose of casual violence, not to mention liberal and fluent use of the F-word. We might expect whisky to be presented in a wholly negative context, responsible for all kinds of societal ills.
Instead whisky is here the surprising agent of the redemption of Robbie, a Glasgow tearaway with a criminal record, but determined to better himself and find a new life for his pregnant girlfriend, Leonie. Sentenced to a period of community service he discovers whisky through his ‘angel’ of a supervisor, Harry, only to find he has a nose of unusual sensitivity and discrimination. Learning of the forthcoming auction of a genuine cask of Maltmill (in the auction scene it sells for more than $1.5 million, as indeed such a treasure might in reality) he contrives to acquire some bottles — unlabelled, of course. Selling one to the devious agent of a shadowy and unscrupulous collector (are there such people?) secures him a job at a distillery and funds a fresh start for Robbie and his new family.
Whisky fans will be delighted to see their favorite tipple center and front, with tourist board scenes shot at Glengoyne, Deanston, and Balblair, not to mention a convincing performance by Charlie Maclean as the ‘whisky expert’ — though largely all he does is play himself!
Viewed in the context of Loach’s previous work, The Angel’s Share may appear flawed and morally suspect (Robbie embarks on further crime to escape his life of crime), but most movie-goers will accept it at face value as a feel-good cross between a rom-com and a heist caper and leave the theatre smiling.
Like a pleasant, well-made blend, The Angel’s Share pleases in an undemanding way. It lifts the spirits without challenging the intellect and can safely be shared with even your vodka-drinking friends!