During the Depression, Jimmy Gralton returns home to Ireland after ten years of exile in America. Seeing the levels of poverty and oppression, the activist in him reawakens and he looks to re-open the dance hall that led to his deportation.
This bitter sweet comedy follows protagonist Robbie as he sneaks into the maternity hospital to visit his young girlfriend Leonie and hold his newborn son Luke for the first time. Overwhelmed by the moment, he swears that Luke will not have the same tragic life he has had. Escaping a prison sentence by the skin of his teeth, he's given one last chance......While serving a community service order, he meets Rhino, Albert and Mo who, like him, find it impossible to find work because of their criminal records. Little did Robbie imagine how turning to drink might change their lives - not cheap fortified wine, but the best malt whiskies in the world. Will it be 'slopping out' for the next twenty years, or a new future with 'Uisge Beatha' the 'Water of Life?' Only the angels know........Written by
Rebecca O'Brien, producer
When toasting the birth of Robbie's child and Robbie dislikes the whisky, it sounds like Harry calls him a Philippine when he should have said philistine. See more »
You don't recognize Edinburgh Castle?
No. Or I wouldn't have been asking you.
Have you been living in the cupboard all your life or what?
And what's the matter with that, Harry?
See more »
Yesterday was my birthday and this was the film my wife and I decided to go out to watch, even if it seemed almost all the other screens at our 'Plex were showing "Spider Man". I think we made the right choice. It probably helped our enjoyment being from Glasgow enabling us to play "Spot the Location" as you invariably do in these situations and of course our familiarity with not only the "types" portrayed in the film but also their what I'll politely term vocabulary and vernacular.
What it is at heart is a caper film involving four young offenders who as part of their "community pay-back" sentences get taken under the wing of a good-hearted middle-aged "minder" well played by John Henshaw and learn that they have a penchant for whisky-tasting after a sponsored visit to a distillery. From there, they hatch an unlikely plan to steal for a private collector extracts from a rare cask which takes them up to the islands on an intrepid mini-"Mission Impossible", which after some ups and downs ends happily for all.
The film displays Ken Loach's by now usual mix of naturalistic realism with everyday settings and improbable plotting with attendant unlikely coincidence along the way. The film starts with a couple of violent scenes to fully convey the tough environment from which the protagonists are seeking a way out but changes into a different film altogether when the four decamp to the Highlands to carry out their ingenious theft. That dichotomy in retrospect seems a little forced at times and the coincidental nature of the plotting which affords them their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity stretches credulity as it settles into almost Ealing-esque territory but it's carried off with some flair and conviction with a nice human touch at the end to send everyone home out of the cinema with a "feel-good" smile on their faces.
The ensemble acting is as usual with Loach of a high standard. Paul Brannigan as the brains behind the misfits shines but each of the four comes across with their own personality. The dialogue is sharp and up to date with some funny set-pieces thrown in too, particularly those involving the wrong bike and how a recovering junkie slaked his thirst.
Overall, once you suspend disbelief at the plot development and denouement, this is an easy film to settle down and enjoy. My wife and I certainly did, happy birthday to me!
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