Wednesday, Oct. 9, part of the Milwaukee Film Festival's Spotlight Presentations, "The Angels' Share" had its final screening at the Oriental Theatre. Ken Loach's crime comedy ran from 8:15-10 p.m on the day before the end of the film festival.
"The Angels' Share" is the story of young Scottish criminal Robbie who tries to turn his life around after the birth of his son Luke. With his girlfriend Leonie's family, the courts, a family rival, and employers against him, Robbie must find a way to escape his demons and start anew in the interest of his new family. After discovering a talent for identifying the best whiskey, Robbie and a group of misfit community service comrades embark upon a mission across the highlands of Scotland to steal the world's rarest, most expensive whiskey as a means of funding a new beginning.
The last reported thief was the vikings.
"The Angels' Share", while primarily a crime film, has additional elements of comedy and drama. There are certainly elements of suspense found in crime films through the plot to steal the priceless whiskey, but comedy takes a close second in the mix of genres found in "The Angels' Share." The film opens with a strong sense of comedy as we see idiotic Albert earn his community service through an extreme case of public intoxication, arguing with an official on the train station speakers. The group of criminals constantly bring comedy throughout the film, but the drama is found specifically in Robbie's character. After some initial mystery in only seeing the aftermath of Robbie's crimes, the audience gets a look into his violent past through the eyes of his most recent victim. Though ruthless and brutal in his previous crimes, the audience grows to sympathize with Robbie as they see him fight against so many forces pulling against him in his attempt to change his ways.
Even if you wanted to change, they wouldn't let you.
One of the things that makes Robbie's character so endearing over time is his connection with three of the community services mates and fellow thieves. Idiotic Albert, Rhino, and kleptomaniac Mo meet during community payback and, after a life-changing trip to a whiskey distillery with their supervisor Harry, the group bonds over a love and interest in whiskey. The group meets on occasion to discuss whiskey and sharpen their sense of smell and taste, eventually getting the idea to steal a few bottles of the rarest, most expensive whiskey, Malt Mill. And while the group is comprised of some likeable, comical characters, Paul Brannigan's premiere role as Robbie steals the show. Brannigan conveys humor, suspense, rage, love, and drama over the course of 106 minutes, turning a ruthless criminal into a lovable underdog.
One to keep, one to swap, one to share with my mates.
Those uninterested in whiskey tastings and distilleries might not find "The Angels' Share" as interesting during the middle of the film. There is a good amount of time spent developing the group's interest in whiskey and their plot to steal the coveted Malt Mill. This development of interest, while important to developing Robbie's character, might slow down the film for those who want to stay at the heart of the crime element, which features mainly in the very beginning and end of the film.
Nobody ever bothers anybody wearing kilts.