The Angels’ Share Screen 12 articles

The Angels’ Share


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  • It's tough to judge a film harshly for being enjoyable and populist, but as the first act reminds us that Loach is capable of more, the lighter turn ultimately disappoints.

  • Loach's bona fides go without saying after all these years, but the first half - with the underclass being shiftless, larcenous, violent and generally underclass-y in every single scene - comes close to self-parody or (worse) ghetto tourism for the middle-class audience. Fortunately it turns out to be set-up for the second half, a blessed relief where comedy capers come to the fore, we get jokes about kilts and the characters turn into lovable scamps.

  • The Angels' Share is like some hybrid born from the loins ofSideways and The Full Monty, reveling in a brand of cheeky camaraderie that feels ultimately cheap, one that simply cherishes a dimwitted euphoric passion for sipping booze and talking shit.

  • When The Angels' Share suddenly transforms, in its final act, into a kind of farcical heist picture, that fleeting slapstick tendency wins out, regrettably diminishing the film's social consciousness in the process. It's one of the strangest narrative pivots in recent memory, reducing what began as a smart film about class to a vacuous one about nothing much at all, implicitly trivializing its serious themes the moment it decides to abandon them.

  • ...I’m setting the odds for it winning the Palme d’Or at everything-I-possess-in-the-world-to-1. Which is not to say that it’s bad, mind—just that it’s the most cheerfully weightless picture to be selected in ages, to the point where I can readily imagine a Hollywood remake starring, say, Zac Efron. That said, it’s the Glaswegian specificity that makes this contrived heist comedy mildly enjoyable...

  • The Angels’ Share is an engaging, funny and thoughtful film, blending its depictions of hard urban realities with tongue-in-cheek humour and moments of slapstick. This cocktail of elements is the film’s greatest achievement, the successful mixing of comedy and suspense with a thoughtful look at the difficulties of post-industrial youth in deprived inner cities.

  • ...There’s something particularly dismaying about the stately socialist cuing up the Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” twice within the film’s third act. (Unless he’s paying unlikely homage to Benny & Joon, in which case: Kudos?) Still, Loach coaxes an endearingly poised performance out of nonprofessional Brannigan, and largely sells these scuffling characters as neither hopeless nor heroic—just terribly human.

  • Loach’s camera is intimate but never intrusive; it gives us just enough distance from its subjects for comfort, and not much more. That’s also the function of the film’s humor, which is laced with just enough mockery (much of it directed at the pretensions of upper-class whiskey connoisseurship) to keep us at a safe distance, but which handles its targets with such evident care, respect, and even admiration that we rarely feel guilty over chuckling.

  • Loach creates a tale that showcases the underside of British society and is as equally as humorous as it is touching and sensitive. Young actor Paul Brannigan gives a highly nuanced performance to the Glaswegian that transforms the character into a conflicted young man who wants to do the right thing, but who doesn't exactly know what that means or how to start.

  • Forget about the plot. Don't worry about whether this film has a happy or tragic ending. What's important is the voice that tells the tale, offering an affectionate, grandfatherly view of jobless young people struggling to get by. I found myself choked up as the film built to an unlikely epiphany...

  • What ensues is probably, in fact, as close to a folksy hybrid between Kes and Ocean’s Elevenas we’re ever likely to get. Loach’s unpretentious, termite-artist style keeps every scene from leaden repetition, but the jokes never come too easy.

  • Somewhere past the halfway mark, all darkness lifts, and the movie settles firmly into comic territory. While a few farcical moments fizzle, it’s mostly charming.

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