"The Angels' Share" is a wonderful, unmissable, film which in our view is destined to become a Scottish classic up there alongside all time greats such as "Local Hero". The story begins with the central character Robbie very narrowly escaping a jail sentence after a fight with a lifelong enemy from a neighbouring corner of the rough end of Glasgow. Longer than lifelong, in fact, his father always fought his enemy's father, and Robbie had always fought him. Robbie's record of a past custodial sentence for an unprovoked violent crime while high on cocaine counts against him, but he is let off with community service because his young girlfriend Leonie is eight months' pregnant and the Sheriff believes fatherhood might change his outlook on life.
And it needs to. The world Robbie inhabits is, to borrow Thomas Hobbes' 1651 description, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short", and we become immersed in his existence in the dark side of a Glasgow that is a very long way from the tourist literature, but which comes over utterly convincingly. Even the arrival of baby Luke offers little hope as Leonie's father does all he can to violently deter Robbie from any involvement.
Robbie's only respite comes from the friends he makes while doing his community service under the supervision of Harry, played by one only two well known actors among the cast, John Henshaw. A turning point comes with a group visit to a distillery, and Robbie discovers that he has a real nose for identifying whiskies. This interest in whisky as an object of study becomes an outlet, at first intellectually, and then possibly more widely. The grimly comic tone of the first half of the film lightens as the main characters set out, in kilts, for the Highlands, and suddenly the grim violence of Glasgow is exchanged for an escapade slightly reminiscent of, as entertaining as, and more amusing than, the original "Italian Job". Only without the Minis. Or the gold.
The closing section of the film creates considerable tension, while also being laugh out loud funny. Will the friends succeed in their venture, as failure would see them all consigned to prison? And will Robbie be able to break out of a world that will otherwise forever drag him back into failure, drugs and violence? Go and see this film: you will be glad you did.