Had a moving and hilarious night at the cinema watching The Angel's Share. I've heard about it from others who went, and missed it on general release but caught it on a one off showing in Aberdeen. The reviews describe it as a movie about a young ned with a last chance to make something more of his life. No big names in the film, but lots of acting talent and character portrayal - from the caricature to the stereotype.
Everyone will find their own window into this hard world of social realism at the tough end of the socio-economic spectrum. For me there were several stand out moments in a film that simply drew me into the dramas of several lives, as they slowly became the woven strands of the central drama - how to steal the world's rarest cask of whisky without being caught.
When Robbie holds his new baby son, and calls him Luke, something changes in the way he looks at the world. When he then faces one of the victims of his drugs fuelled violence there are several minutes of relentless emotional hammering as he hears from his victim, and his victim's mother, the cost and cosequence of his mindless violence. Through tears of bewilderment and guilt he hears the mother demand that he look at her. Look becomes an important word no matter how it is spelled.
The amber liquid made in Scotland from girders is not whisky, but Irn Bru. And the Irn Bru bottles become central to the story as it twists and turns to its conclusion. The contrast between the Community Service Group and those bidding over a million for a cask of whisky is one of Loach's recurring themes of social justice, life chances and young people struggling to remain hopeful aginst all the social forces that do them down.
The combination of humour and pathos, of tenderness and violence, of fluent obscenity and linguistic clarity, of friendship and enmity, and of hopelessness and hopefilled longing, was just this side of confusing cynicism and sentiment. And the ending is both hopeful and ambiguous, which life tends to be, even for the most resilient.
Theological reflection on such a film probably shouldn't be done the morning after. But one thought nags away - the love of a good woman, the birth of a child, and the stated theme from the start, of one more chance at life - this film explores the transforming power of love, whether the love of Leone for her and Robbie's son Luke, or the raging love of the mother confronting her son's attacker at the meeting for restorative justice. And woven throughout, the goodness of the Community Services Supervisor, who offers home, guidance and an expanding world to this Glasgow prodigal son.