I couldn’t get to a screening of The Angel’s Share south of the border when the film was on general release, despite the critical praise the movie attracted. Today I finally caught up with the film on DVD and I’m glad I did. The Angel’s Share is a typical piece of Social Realism from the man behind the likes of Kes and The Wind that Shakes the Barley. The plot focuses on a young thug called Robbie (Paul Brannigan) from the rough streets of Glasgow’s East End. After narrowly escaping prison following his latest arrest he is given community service under the guidance of Harry (John Henshaw). Harry tries to get his guys back on the straight and narrow and introduces them to the delights of whiskey tasting, something which Robbie picks up very quickly. When the group discover a valuable cask is about to come up for auction they realise they can use it as a means of escaping the gutter.
The Angel’s Share is a beautiful phrase and is used to denote the 2% of whiskey which is evaporated from barrels each year. Later it is given another, equally poignant meaning. The film is equally as darkly comic as it is rough and Glasgow is depicted as the sort of place that you’d never want to visit. It makes Baltimore in The Wire look like Disney Land. Through the poverty and dirt though emerges hope in the form of Robbie, a man on his final chance. He is inches from prison and has a violent gang on his back as well as a new born baby so decides that now is the time to get out of Glasgow and start afresh. The way in which this is attempted is highly original, entertaining and funny.