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
Charles MacLean, the whisky expert, is the genuine article and the only one of the cast to see the script in its entirety. See more »
When Harry is discussing Robbie's life of crime with him, he says that Robbie wouldn't want to miss his son growing up. This is discussed before the child is born. Later, when Luke (Robbie's son) is born, it is clear that no one knew that he would be a boy before the event. See more »
He used to tell a tale about an Arab smuggler who used to go across the border every day with bags of straw and his donkey. He admitted to the guards he was a smuggler, so every day they used to search him. They couldn't find a thing. And then, once he retired, one of the guards found him one day and says to him, "Right, come on, tell, us. You've gotta tell us now. What have you been smuggling?" The old guy smiles and turns round and says, "Donkeys. I was smuggling donkeys."
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UK cinema- and DVD versions have eight uses of the strongest profanity removed in order to obtain a 15 classification. The Blu-ray is uncut and rated 18. See more »
I've always liked Ken Loach's films, but this one is special. Set realistically in Glasgow, it could be set in virtually any major city in the UK with only minor tweaks (kilts apart). As with most of Ken's work, it's essentially about the infinite redeem-ability of the human spirit, given half a chance.
Comparisons are being made to the Full Monty, but I don't quite see that. If anything, it's a far better Trainspotting, with jokes to replace the parts you hardly want to watch. It's hilariously funny and if you don't blurt out at least one guffaw during the film, you are dead from the neck up. At the same time it is not a "feelgood" movie as such, because it faces the stark realities of the situation of the main character head on. Their lot is fairly hopeless and unlikely to get much better.
Inevitably in a film designed to fit within the constraints of the medium, it compresses far more than is sensible. More development of the way Robbie comes to understand his options would have been better, as would his growing relationship with Big Harry. You can forgive that, as otherwise it would have been a 10 part series for TV. Budgets are tight and we all know that this would never have made it.
I raise a glass to Ken, we need more like him. A man who reminds us so well how the world can be a better place, rather than just telling us how bad it is. That's really the Angels' Share, after all.
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