The Angels' Share

We just might put U.K. legend Ken Loach’s whole career on our all-time “underrated and overlooked” list. It’s weird fate he hasn’t achieved the kind of pathological pantheon status that keeps foolios raving about every successive Godard flick. If you fall for Loach, you’ll find his formal approach as consistent as Ozu’s or Bresson’s — for, like a lot of stubborn stylists, he’s slowly trying to climb the Mt. Everest of perfection. The guy’s almost 80, and he still cranks out small miracles from the working-class realism factory almost every year — works that produce laughs and tears in equal measure, with nary a cheat. The Angels’ Share might be his gentlest film, cheerfully detailing the reformation of a snotty delinquent into a whiskey expert, and the rare liquor heist he and his friends pull — but it’s by no means lightweight. Even in a “warmhearted” comedy mode, Loach here tosses off a detailed, realistic courtroom confrontation between a thug and his former victim, one that has the emotional wallop of a therapeutic breakthrough — and that’s just to set up a backstory for our protagonist.
Dir. Ken Loach, 2012, DCP, 101 min.

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