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REVIEW: 'The Angels' Share'

REVIEW: 'The Angels' Share'

REVIEW: 'The Angels' Share', Flicks.co.nz

3 stars

Ken Loach (Looking for Eric) comedy about a Scottish man with a criminal past who vows to change his ways when he's introduced to fatherhood. A visit to a whisky distillery inspires him and his mates to seek a way out of their dead-end lives. In Cinemas October 18.

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The Angels' Share starts off with a bit of exposition via court room scene, introducing us to our main characters as they are sentenced to community service. The scene is laugh out loud funny one moment, soberingly sad the next, which sets up the tonal shifts that occur throughout the movie. It starts off as a working class tragedy-in-the-making, only to take a pleasantly unexpected turn into something altogether breezier, a lightly comic story about whiskey tasting and redemption.

Paul Brannigan makes his screen debut as Robbie, a man waging a seemingly hopeless struggle to escape his past and make a life for himself. His downhill slide begins to level out during a visit to his parole officer's house and a glass of whiskey, which leads to a newfound interest in tasting, and a bit of mischief in the 3rd act that I won't spoil here.

The highlight of the film for me was Charles MacLean, a real life whiskey taster playing himself and essentially just doing his job on camera. It's a job he's obviously very good at, because onscreen he has charisma and upper-class eccentricity in spades, and an obvious, infectious passion for whiskey.

The working-class mileau of Glasgow creeps around the edges of the film, including a truly disgusting scene involving Robbie's alcoholic flatmate, and a volume of profanity that would be bracing if it weren't so amiable in that Scottish kind of way. The Angels' Share circumvents a lot of redemption-story cliches, delivering something that's grounded in reality but finds room for some well-earned warm fuzzies.

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