‘malt whisky epitomises the inherent dichotomy of the Scottish psyche – at once passionate and rational, romantic and ironic, mystical and sceptical, heroic and craven, full of laughter and despair.’
Charles Maclean Malt Whisky (1998)
Scottish cinema can generally be divided into two categories – gritty urban dramas (Trainspotting, Neds) or charming escapism (Local Hero). Ken Loach’s The Angel’s Sharemanages to cover both territories with this tale of a young tearaway who finds redemption through a developing interest in Malt whisky. Robbie (Paul Brannigan) is a bright lad but never far away from trouble. Unable to extricate himself from a long-time feud with a local gang and hated by his pregnant girlfriend’s family he is running out of chances until kindly community services leader Harry (John Henshaw) takes him under his wing and introduces him to the pleasures of malt whisky.
Loach and Glaswegian writer Paul Laverty have collaborated on fourteen other films several of which have been set in Scotland including Carla’s Song (1994), My Name is Joe(98), and Ae Fond Kiss (2004). Always sympathetic to the plight of the underprivileged their work together particularly when dealing with Scots working class life has a great deal of humour present. The Angel’s Share is one of Loach’s warmest films, avoiding his tendency for didacticism but still managing to pass social commentary while being extremely entertaining.