The Angels’ Share: In Conversation

Ken Loach's The Angels' Share

movieScope editor Nikki Baughan and critic James Mottram discuss Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share, in which disaffected Glasgow man Robbie (Paul Brannigan) hatches a plan to secure a better life for himself, his girlfriend and new baby. Contains minor spoilers.


REVIEW: 4 stars

JAMES MOTTRAM: I tend to like Ken Loach’s more dramatic, hard-hitting films than his lighter ones. I thought, from what I knew about this, that it was going to be in that vein. But, although it has that typical Loach and Laverty humour, there are some really hard-hitting scenes. The second half of the film is, in some ways, much lighter, but I thought the tones of dark and light mixed really well. 

NIKKI BAUGHAN: Like you say, there was some really dismal stuff about life in modern Glasgow. But I thought that the title of the film was the perfect analogy for Robbie’s journey; the ‘angels’ share’ is the two percent of whisky that escapes into the atmosphere, and I saw that as being a parallel with Robbie’s life. By taking his fate in his own hands, he becomes one of the small percentage of people that escapes that quagmire of alcoholism, depression and poverty.

JAMES: That’s pretty spot on. I thought Paul Brannigan was very charismatic in the lead. This is his first role, and they drew a great performance out of him. His character starts out in a place where you really can’t like him; he’s done something horrible. If he’s under the influence of drugs he’s not a nice person at all. But even then you have to sympathise to a certain degree with his background and what has been forced upon him

NIKKI: It’s made very clear that he hasn’t got a lot of choices. He’s trying hard to be a good dad to his newborn child, but his girlfriend’s family won’t give him a chance. That’s why I think that his journey becomes quite inspiring, really. I think that having a pregnant girlfriend was a clever way of giving him some genuine motivation; he’s not doing it all for himself. And the plan that he comes up with to finally change his situation is actually quite humorous, quite light. Stealing whisky isn’t the biggest most awful crime…

JAMES: You could also say that it has some reference back to Whisky Galore. There’s a certain kind of feel to the film, like Ken Loach meets Ealing Comedy! I thought he got the tone just about right.

NIKKI: That duality of tone was important to the story. It wasn’t veering wildly between drama and comedy just to elicit reactions; those areas of shadow and light were essential to Robbie’s story. I came out feeling uplifted

JAMES: It’s certainly one of the most upbeat stories Loach has ever done!

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