The Angels' Share

Directed By: Ken Loach

Starring: Paul Brannigan, John Henshaw, William Ruane, Gary Maitland, Jasmin Riggins, and Siobhan Reilly

Every year, two percent of alcohol evaporates from a barrel of whisky.  It's what's called the angels' share.  It's a damn shame.  Nature steals two percent of one of God's greatest gifts every year.  It's the good stuff too!  The whisky lost has aged and has only gotten better with time.  On the other hand, this is what makes older whisky much more valuable.  It's better, and there's less of it.  Director Ken Loach has no problem showing us the ins and outs of making and tasting fine whisky in his latest film The Angels’ Share.

Robbie (Paul Brannigan) has a checkered past and has frequently clashed with Clancy (Scott Kyle), a longtime rival.  Things need to change though as he's about to become a father.  Now with his pregnant girlfriend Leonie (Siobhan Reilly), Robbie needs to put his foolish ways aside and become the kind of man that will be there to raise his unborn son.  This fresh start for Robbie begins in the courtroom when a judge decides to give him one last chance to get his life together.  For recent crimes on the streets of Glasgow, Robbie has been sentenced to do several hundred hours of community service. 

Under the watch of Harry (John Henshaw), Robbie does his community service and makes several new friends along the way — Albert (Gary Maitland), Mo (Jasmin Riggins), and Rhino (William Ruane).  Harry begins introducing Robbie and his friends to the world of whisky.  They get to taste some of the finer drinks in life and learn of the angels' share.  At a whisky event in Edinburgh, they learn of Malt Mill, a rare cask of whisky recently discovered that is considered simply priceless.  Ready to change their lot in life, the group of new friends decides to steal some of this Malt Mill whisky and make a fortune on the black market.

By all rights, I should have loved The Angels' Share.  It's a movie about whisky.  It shouldn't get more obvious than that.  The problem is that Ken Loach takes his sweet time to begin exploring the marvels of whisky.  Robbie's melodrama, the boring minutiae that fills the void until we get a taste of the good stuff, is not hitting the spot for me.  Loach spends entirely too much time dwelling on this delinquent's troubles.  Honestly, the drama in the whisky auctions is more entertaining.  Don't get me wrong.  It's a decent film with a healthy dose of Scottish humor, but it's not quite the movie that was advertised in the trailer.

Comedy is what keeps The Angels' Share afloat.  There's a decent amount of quirky, off-kilter Scottish humor.  Paul Brannigan talks loads of trash throughout the film whether with his newfound friends or his sworn enemies.  Gary Maitland keeps the amusing stupidity coming with all his antics as Albert.   Jasmin Riggins offers a lot of low-brow humor as well as Mo.  All in all, The Angels' Share is one funny movie once things get going.

If it didn't drag until it got to the whisky distillery and overemphasize Robbie's personal drama, The Angels' Share would have gotten a much higher rating.  Loach has the comedic talent at his disposal.  He just underutilizes it at first.  Put on the Proclaimers' "500 Miles" and have a shot and a beer with this one.  The Angels' Share gets a 0.06% rating.