Monday, May 27, 2013

The Angels' Share

Imagine The Full Monty without the performing or Trainspotting without the speed

     Ken Loach’s latest movie, The Angels’ Share, was awarded third place at Cannes last year.  It’s a comedy based on the desperation of a group of young unemployed people who form a bond through community service and the chance they’re given by their social worker.  It’s a shaggy dog tale that
takes about a half hour to give the viewer any idea about where the plot might go.  It requires patience; especially since The Esquire showing this afternoon had some trouble with the visual continuity.  Yes, everything’s digital and when it doesn’t work, it sucks almost as much as when a film print used to break a few years ago.  

     Going into the cinema, I said to Neil, “I hope they have subtitles.”
     He said, “It’s in English, isn’t it?”
     “Yes, but they’re Scottish so their accents will be tough.”
     Fortunately, there are subtitles.  Unfortunately, the main character, Robbie, has created a series of wretched circumstances for himself and even though he’s watchfully intelligent and spirited, his chance at much of a future seems dim.  Add to that the fact that he’s in an altercation and then, two scenes later, beaten up – all in the first ten minutes.

Paul Brannigan and
Siobhan Reilly with baby
     Robbie’s girlfriend Leonie gives birth to their son and that makes him more determined to somehow find a better future and provide for them.  The way he does this is the reason for seeing the movie and I don’t want to say too much beyond the facts that it involves a newly found skill around Scotch whisky, the friends he acquires through his community service, and a smuggling scheme.  The moment this was suggested, I thought, oh great, he has to resort to larceny to get ahead.  However, the same idea is suggested by another character that doesn’t need the money.  It doesn’t make it right, but it does level things in such a way that it doesn’t seem to be about class, but rather about character.  

Harry (John Henshaw) with Robbie
     This movie is about surviving despair and it is a comedy, but without a lot of laughs.  Paul Brannigan is a real find as Robbie.  He’s wiry and puckish with great eyes and big ears and he’s both charming and thuggish.  His real life has been permeated by parental drug use and that may have influenced Loach’s casting since he features both professional and non-trained actors in his movies.  Besides the accents, the cursing is constant to a point that I hardly noticed it after twenty minutes, but it doesn’t let up.

Walking the Backroads of Scotland

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