The title of the film “The Angels’ Share” comes from a term coined by whiskey distillers. Apparently, as whiskey aged in a barrel, two percent of the liquid evaporates into the ether every year, and that two percent is charmingly referred to as “The Angels’ Share.”
Much like its title, the movie is perfectly pleasant and compelling, yet it is so slight that it drifts off leaving no trace after the credits roll.
The hero of our story is Robbie (Paul Brannigan), a Scottish thug short both in stature and temper. Robbie is serving the Gaelic equivalent of probation with community service for randomly beating the snot out of some unsuspecting citizen.
Realizing he needs to turn his life around after becoming a father, Robbie looks to set his life straight, but he finds his prospects are slim because he can’t land a job due to his criminal record and a gnarly scar that runs down the side of his face.
Things begin to change when Robbie’s kindhearted probation officer Harry (John Henshaw) takes his charges out for a bit of a field trip to a whiskey distillery.
It turns out Robbie has the nose of a whiskey connoisseur and he takes great interest in the subject, even going as far as hosting tasting parties in his bombed-out apartment.
One day Robbie tags along with Harry to a meeting of whiskey enthusiasts. There he learns that an extremely rare barrel of whiskey has been discovered and is about to be auctioned off for hundreds of thousands of euros.
As Robbie’s financial situation becomes increasingly dire, a plan is hatched to swipe the priceless spirit.
The rest of the film plays out like your standard heist movie as Robbie employs the help of fellow probationers Mo (Jasmine Riggins), the shoplifter, Rhino (William Ruane), the soccer hooligan, and Albert (Gary Maitland), the buffoon.
“The Angels’ Share” is an enjoyable enough movie that gives us little windows into the interesting subcultures of whiskey aficionados and Scottish petty criminals. Even still, you get the impression that this movie could have been better.
Director Ken Loach incorporates a relentlessly dry and straightforward style and Brannigan is a rather uninspiring lead, although it’s not entirely clear if the deficiency is on his part as an actor or if the character of Robbie was just underwritten.
Even with all of its flaws, this movie manages to get by on a whole lot of pluck and likability; or maybe, in the end, I’m just a sucker for thick Scottish accents.
At any rate, “The Angels’ Share” is not a movie that is going to leave much of a lasting impression. Much like a stiff drink at the end of a long day, it gets the job done, but you’re probably not going to remember it in the morning.
“The Angels’ Share” is not rated, but contains strong language, some violence, and adult situations.