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The Angels’ Share DVD Review

by Luke Ryan Baldock

Director: Ken Loach

Starring: Paul Brannigan, John Henshaw, Hary Maitland, Jasmin Riggins, William Ruane, Roger Allam, Siobhan Reilly

Running Time: 96 minutes

Certificate: 15

Extras: Deleted Scenes, Making Of

Ken Loach may be known primarily for his dank and dark dramas, but THE ANGELS’ SHARE kicks things off in hilarious fashion. A man stumbles drunkenly onto some train tracks after becoming confused by a blunt message over the PA system. We are then thrust into court where we encounter a group of people each sentenced to community service. Among these is our protagonist Robbie (Paul Brannigan). Robbie is an expectant father and sees fatherhood as the final kick up the bum he needs to change his violent ways. The group is taken on a trip to a whiskey distillery where they take a surprising interest in the process, which then leads to whiskey tasting groups and the chance to change their lives forever.

THE ANGELS’ SHARE equally balances the rough with the smooth. This is certainly an inspirational tale about changing the course of one’s life, and also how the lower/working classes find themselves in a constant loop of deprivation and aggression. This is highlighted in the constant threat posed to Robbie from a man who he constantly has run ins with because their father’s didn’t get along. This sense of pointless fate is very dark when one gives it some thought. This feud also adds tension to every moment of the film, as Robbie is always at risk of a reprisal for his actions that lead to his community service.

Robbie works as a character because he is very proactive in his change and doesn’t shy away from confronting his mistakes. There is one particularly memorable scene in which Robbie has an arranged talk with one of the victims of his many outbursts of violence. The victim was left blind in one eye, and we are forced, like Robbie, to revisit and listen to the victim’s account of events. Loach plays this out with an equal measure of flashbacks and sublime dialogue which is expertly delivered.  It truly is distressing and for that brief moment we forget that we kind of like Robbie. He seems like a completely different person which is exactly what his anger forces him to become.

The film’s social commentary is also subtly played out as we see this group of Scottish convicts mingling in with fancy upper class whiskey tasting sessions. However, the film actually shows that with a genuine interest, the group are welcomed and not ridiculed as you might expect. In fact, they are encouraged by those around them and this new appreciation for something outside of their comfort zone is the catalyst of change.

The last act falters ever so slightly due to it changing into a heist film. It works at times, but the series of events is kind of rushed and it becomes apparent that the rest of the group doing community service is simply there for this plan to be pulled off, rather than being fleshed out characters themselves.

THE ANGELS’ SHARE is a good natured film that also looks into the darkness but isn’t afraid to suggest solutions. At times hysterical, and sometimes harrowing, THE ANGELS’ SHARE should leave you with a smile on your face, and coming from a Ken Loach film, that’s gotta be something special.

THE ANGELS’ SHARE is released on DVD and Uncut on Blu-ray on 24th September. Get your copy here.

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