Starring: Paul Brannigan, John Henshaw, Roger Allam
Directed by: Ken Loach
Written By: Paul Laverty
Rating: 15 (UK) Running Time: 1 hr 41 min
The Angels’ Share tells the story of a young Glaswegian* called Robbie. Raised poorly, and living a dead-end life between violent collisions with lads in his neighborhood and trouble with the law. Literally scared by life and broke, there seems little chance Robbie will be able to pursue anything positive in this life. But something has to change because Robbie has a new baby to take care of, and a girlfriend that won’t put up with his shenanigans anymore.
Somewhat funny in places, and certainly powerful at times, The Angels’ Share is a decent enough story about the underdog struggling to make good. Decent performances from Paul Brannigan and Co certainly help pass the time, but The Angels’ Share for me had a couple of problems.
The first is the pacing. The film runs an hour and 41 minutes, but it felt a lot longer. Ken Loach and Paul Laverty didn’t seem to be in any hurry to tell this story, which is a shame. What could have been a nice uplifting underdog story, gets bogged down with a lot of character development and social commentary during the first act. I understand it’s important to properly introduce Robbie, but once his character is established it’s time to move on with the plot. This film however, lingers too long on Robbie’s past, and his victims. It’s thought-provoking stuff. Especially the scene where Robbie has to meet his victim’s family. But I honestly thought that was an unnecessary step for this film to take.
The other major problem I had with this film was the morally ambiguous direction it steers our lead character. So what’s the moral of this story? To make your way in the world, you have to steal? It was disappointing to say the least. So what did our character learn on this journey – crime pays? Instead of a story about the underdog working hard and using his newly found talents to start a new life for himself and his family. We’re essentially told the best route forward is to just steal what you need to get ahead.
This is a small independent British film, with subtitles even though the characters are speaking English – all be it with think Glaswegian accents. It’s a slow ride, but not without its moments of fun. One of the posters for this film declares ‘Scotland’s answer to The Full Monty.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s nothing like that film. Not even close. If you can give the morally suspect story a pass, then you might find this worth your time.
This isn’t a grand visual experience. This film will work on what ever device you care to use. Smart-Phone, tablet, laptop or TV over your preferred streaming service. If you think you’ll have trouble with the think accents, make sure you watch this on something large enough so you can see the subtitles.
Best moment for me: << very mild spoiler >>
The opening of this film has a character called Albert staggering about at a train station. The station guard starts talking to him over the PA system. Asking Albert to stay away from the edge of the platform. Albert isn’t too bright to say the least, and does in fact fall off the platform onto the train tracks. But the moment the guard says ‘This is God calling, get off the f—ing track, will you!’ – cracked me up!
* Glaswegian – Someone who originated from Glasgow, Scotland.