Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Angels' Share

There are cringe comedies where you feel embarrassed for the characters, and those where you feel embarrassed for the director. The Angels’ Share is one of the latter. Despite adding a touch of grimy realism to the early scenes, Ken Loach quickly falls in line with the dull plot of this rote comedic caper. There’s a distressing lack of humour or personality in this tale of four petty criminals plotting to buy a better life with a few pilfered bottles of rare whisky, and the stakes remain so low that a toddler could vault over them with ease. Group leader Robbie is given some depth through a vivid, pained reconciliation with the victims of his criminal days, but the rest of his gang remain interchangeable cyphers, adding little more than a chorus of bodily functions in the background. The comedy finds no footing in either the setting or the people; the film’s unfunny gags would be just as home in any Hollywood bro-comedy as they are on these grey Glaswegian streets. As the title suggests, the film hinges on a series of metaphorical transactions: the uncompensated suffering of Robbbie’s victims, the unbreakable blood bond between two rival families, and the irredeemable debt to society held by those who can least afford the payments. Of course, this being a comedy—albeit more in theory than in practice, if we’re going by laughs—all accounts are settled with minimal effort, burying the numerous shortcomings of the underdeveloped script. Loach, more accountant here than filmmaker, dutifully cooks the books.

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