Saturday, May 18, 2013

Angels' Share (Rhoades)

“Angels’ Share”
Takes Wings

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

If you’re a whisky distiller you have a name for that portion of a spirit’s volume that’s lost to evaporation while aging in oak barrels. The “angels’ share,” it’s called.
Despite being valuable, this amount (about 2 percent) wouldn’t be missed being that it’s an expected phenomena of the distilling process. But what if you could get your hand on an entire cask? Well now, that would be money in the pocket.
A new film titled “The Angels’ Share” -- currently playing at the Tropic Cinema -- tells the story of four unemployed Scottish scofflaws who plot to steal a valuable cask of whisky.
Directed by 76-year-old Ken Loach (“The Wind that Shakes the Barley”), this comedy is a “hearty paean to the pleasures of that whisky and the olfactory sophistication of connoisseurs who use the same vocabulary as wine tasters to evoke its fragrances.”
Because this is a Scottish film about Scottish lads attempting to steal fine Scotch whiskey, it has the distinction of being an English-language film with subtitles … so audiences can understand the thick Scottish brogues of the actors.
The misadventure focuses on Robbie (Paul Brannigan), a skinny, not-very-admirable ruffian with a preggers girlfriend and a sentence of 300 hours community service. Turns out, he also has a golden nose when it comes to fine whisky.
At times the movie almost seems like a documentary on the production of high-end liquor. But it’s really a crime caper in which Robbie and his work detail set out to steal a recently discovered cask of Malt Mill that’s scheduled to be auctioned off.
So they don kilts and pose as a group of Highlanders who belong to the Carntyne Malt Whisky Club. And the night before the sale we find Robbie secreted inside the distillery siphoning off the prized whisky into soda bottles.
Aside from the comic heist storyline, Loach gives us an unflinching  look at the hopeless environment that claims these young hooligans: street fighting, petty crime, feuds, and danger. Paul Brannigan comes from a similar background, so the young actor delivers a believable been-there-done-that performance.
At its heart an amiable, far-fetched farce, “The Angels’ Share” won the Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

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