The Angels’ Share is a Scottish film by director Ken Loach and written by Paul Laverty set in Glasgow following a ragtag group of young offenders who meet through community payback. The protagonist, Robbie (Paul Brannigan) is in need of a change in lifestyle away from the thug background of Glasgow’s eastend to a quiet, respectable life with his young family. Just as Robbie is seen to struggle between his past and desired future, the film is a mix of brutality and comedy, a balance that is sometimes jarring but mostly works well to create a sense of realism.
The main cast is mostly unknown young actors, some of whom were young offenders in real life. In this respect, the film manages to act on its message of second chances through its casting and it appears to have worked well. The unknown faces allows the audience to more easily believe in the actors performance, and the more cringe-worthy dialogue and acting is likely intentional for the development of the different characters. However, there are moments in the film where the inexperience shows as a line might be delivered awkwardly or a little wooden but not more so than some of Hollywood’s finest.
While Robbie is the undisputed heart of the film; with the friendly Henry and adorable baby Luke helping to build points, the comedy often comes from Gary Maitland’s dumbwitted Albert. He is the first character on camera and his drunken antics suggest the films comedic aim from the start. Both the audience and the other characters are often thrown by his idiocy eliciting the more hearty laughs of the film. Yet his existence as the ‘numpty’ of the group doesn’t stop him from providing some of the more genius ideas while the rest are scratching their heads.
It’s a simple plot that holds the film together and it works as easy viewing once it gets past the violence that dominates the first half. The message of redemption and second chances is fairly hard to miss especially with the cheesetastic ending which references the film’s title. For those of a sensitive disposition, be aware of the mountains of swearing from the get go but it does quickly become easy to digest as part of the Glasgow patter.
All in all, The Angels’ Share is a good film, showcasing Scottish talent, industry and landscape. I hesitate to say it’s a must-see but I’d definitely suggest it’s a must-consider, even as just a change from the explosions and fairies elsewhere in the box office.