Award-winning movies don’t always live up to their billing. Such is the case with British filmmaker Ken Loach’s lastest offering, The Angels’ Share—winner of awards at the Cannes Film Festival and the San Sebastian International Film Festival.
Billed as a comedic tale of misplaced talent and unlikely redemption, the movie focuses on the life of young Glasgow miscreant Robbie (Paul Brannigan), whose violent temper and drug habits landed him in prison.
The movie begins in court, where Robbie’s lawyer argues that thanks to his girlfriend and the impending birth of his child, Robbie is a changed man, despite the fact that he just thrashed a gang of thugs. The judge extends grace and gives him 300 hours of community service instead of another prison sentence.
That’s how he meets Big Harry (John Henshaw), the kindly officer overseeing Robbie’s community service. Harry is a Scotch whiskey aficionado and shares this passion with Robbie, who, for the first time in his life, takes an interest in something.
He studies the art and craft of whiskey distilling and discovers that a rare cask is about to be sold at auction for over a million pounds. He decides to steal a couple of bottles with the help of three other petty criminals, also down on their luck and not particularly bright.
Sounds OK so far, right? It probably would be if it were a silent movie, but screenwriter Paul Laverty’s heavy overuse of profanity and obscenities makes the film unconsumable. It doesn’t help that the Scottish accents of the characters are so heavy that subtitles are required; viewers not only hear a deluge of profanity, they read it too.
There is supposed to be an element of humor woven throughout, but the witless jokes lack the intelligence of great heist movies like Ocean's Eleven or The Sting. Although the film is not rated by the MPAA, it has a “15” rating in Britain, the rough equivalent of an “R” rating.
Despite what the critics are saying, this is one movie not to see.