A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Angels' Share was directed by UK filmmaker Ken Loach, who's known for his realistic portraits of the working class. This one is less grim than many of his other works, with plenty of comedy (and some crime) to lighten up the dreary realism. Language is the strongest issue, with frequent uses of "f--k" and "c--t," as well as other words. Whisky is part of the plot; characters enjoy the smells and taste of it, though getting drunk isn't the point. Bullies are also part of the plot, and there are some brief but intense fighting scenes. There's no real sex or sexuality, other than the fact that the hero's girlfriend is pregnant and has a baby. The characters resort to crime with no consequences -- but despite their behavior, they seem to have good hearts and are very compassionate and likeable.
What's the story?
Ne'er-do-well Robbie (Paul Brannigan) is a little guy whose ears stick out a bit too far. He has a pregnant girlfriend (Siobhan Reilly) and is determined to do the right thing. But her family hates him, he's in trouble with the law, and he can't get a job; still, he seems to be trying hard. Doing community service, he meets the kind-hearted Harry (John Henshaw), who introduces Robbie to the pleasures of fine whisky. Harry takes Robbie and a handful of other sad-sacks for a tasting, and they all become fascinated by this new hobby. Learning about the existence of an ultra-rare cask that will be going up for auction, they get the harebrained idea to steal a few bottles and sell it themselves.
Is it any good?
As the realistic, sociopolitical working-class voice of the UK, veteran filmmaker Ken Loach sometimes gets the urge to do something simple, old-fashioned, and entertaining like this film. Miraculously, these movies manage to be cuddly and comforting while still retaining that singular, bracing Loach look and feel. Though THE ANGELS' SHARE is a lightweight heist movie -- and it could be easy to poke holes in its plot logic -- Loach's realism lends an easygoing, ramshackle quality to the film that smoothes over any lack of tightness.
It's rather impressive how Loach incorporates silly, standard-issue plot threads -- such as characters wearing kilts for "disguises," as well as slapstick and coincidences -- and it all still seems perfectly natural. It helps that the casting is so spot-on and the characters are so effortlessly sympathetic. With absolutely nothing against his excellent serious works like Kes and The Wind That Shakes the Barley, it's nice to see Loach finding the time to relax and lighten up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the characters' interest in whisky. Is it realistic to be interested in the look, feel, taste, and smell of an alcoholic beverage without being interested in getting drunk?
Robbie and his friends are very troubled and make iffy choices, but they're still sympathetic. How does The Angels' Share accomplish this? Is it OK to sympathize with characters who aren't pure role models?
What is "realism" in movies? How "realistic" does this movie feel? Is it possible to capture absolute reality in a movie?
How does the movie explain the existence of bullies? How do the characters deal with them? Is there a better way to deal with them?
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