Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema Whisky Galore

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema Whisky Galore

Article excerpt

The Angels' Share 15, Nationwide Ken Loach's The Angels' Share, which has just won the Jury Prize at Cannes, is part social realism, part comedy caper, and so good-natured, warm and affectionate it's rather a joy, even though it doesn't exactly add up; even though its climax is implausible, its tonal shifts are sometimes jarring, and it feels so familiar. It's quite Bill Forsythian (with particular reference to his first ever feature, That Sinking Feeling, since you didn't ask, but should have) via Whisky Galore! and The Full Monty.

Our hero is also familiar, as he's one of those young men caught in a destructive cycle of violence, criminality and long-term unemployment rather than, say, a constructive cycle of cake-baking, helping old ladies across the road and embroidering antimacassars. Just thought it would be best to be clear about this. I do know how disappointing it is to go to the cinema with your heart set on a destructive cycle and getting a constructive cycle instead. It's a bummer.

Anyway, written by Loach's long-term collaborator Paul Laverty, a Scottish lawyer turned scriptwriter, this mostly stars first-timers and non-professionals, like Paul Brannigan. Brannigan, an ex-young offender himself, plays the central character, Robbie, a short-fused, wiry, intense Glasgow twentysomething caught in that cycle. (Honestly, he wouldn't recognise an antimacassar if it walked up to him, put a hand on his arm and said, 'Hello. I'm an antimacassar. Shall we go to the zoo?') Robbie has already done time. He can't get a job. His family are at war with another local family, and have been for generations.

Robbie wants to change, but his enemies warn him he will never be allowed. Yet his girlfriend, Leonie (Siobhan Reilly), is heavily pregnant, and he is, in fact, determined to mend his ways and become a good father - something a judge takes into account when Robbie is up in court for a vicious assault, and is given 300 hours on a 'community payback' scheme rather than a custodial sentence.

On the scheme, he meets fellow hoodlums Rhino (William Ruane), Mo (Jasmine Riggins), and the stupendously stupid Albert (Gary Maitland), as well as their kindly and compassionate supervisor, Harry (John Henshaw). …

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