The Angels' ShareMovies
(MA, 101 minutes.)
The winner of this year's Jury Prize at Cannes, this very likeable comedy drama from veteran British director Ken Loach tells of a Glaswegian criminal given one last chance by a judge, owing to his impending fatherhood.
In true Scottish fashion, a way out presents itself thanks to a wee drop (or rather, several bottles' worth) of whisky.
First-timer Paul Brannigan leads the motley crew of unknowns as Robbie, whose lenient sentence leads him to fellow law-breakers Mo (Jasmin Riggins), Rhino (William Ruane) and Albert (Gary Maitland), all tasked with repainting a community centre.
Their supervisor, Harry (John Henshaw), a sympathetic soul, opts to take the lads on a tour of a distillery, where Robbie discovers he has a natural nose for the stuff.
The film's title refers to the whisky that evaporates while stored in a cask.
There are some true standouts in this Full Monty-esque romp, which is gentle and wry in its delivery.
Albert, especially, is a buffoon of the highest order (he fails to recognise Edinburgh Castle), while Harry provides the father figure that has been so lacking in the men's lives.
Loach, a diehard, much-loved flag-bearer of social justice in his native Britain, brings a warm-hearted poignancy to this feel-good tale of society's more disadvantaged, who, miraculously, find redemption.
Suspension of disbelief may be required at the film's tail but, as with Loach's Looking for Eric, it's a crowd-pleasing piece that begs to be indulged.
Given this is a Ken Loach film, the very real issues of opportunities and employment in modern Britain remain front and centre, and rightly so.
No one is under any illusion here that the future is particularly bright or breezy, but Loach's treatment infuses such matters with a wise insight that places him among Britain's finest living directors. Long-time collaborator Paul Laverty helps push this to the fore.
Typically, the filmmakers clashed with Middle England over the liberal use of bad language, while Brannigan - a real-life former con scouted by the 76-year-old Loach in a community centre in Glasgow - can next be seen opposite Scarlett Johansson in Jonathan Glazer's sci-fi romp Under the Skin.
A fitting epilogue to a genuinely heartfelt experience, Brannigan's own future seems assured, having admitted that this film did indeed turn his life around. Small wonder, then, that Loach remains the people's hero. Great stuff.