The Angels’ Share

Ken Loach could be the king of kitchen-sink realism, if only he’d tolerate that term or the concept of royal privilege. Socialist stalwart Loach’s now legendary empathy for angry young working-class men endures in this mildly schizophrenic fable of pitiable Glaswegian fuckups. Endearing non-actor Paul Brannigan takes sly command as recovering young thug Robbie, who’s trying to straighten up and do well by his brand-new baby boy. He finds himself amidst a busload of ruffians whose community-service rounds one day include a field trip to a distillery, at which Robbie discovers an unlikely path to redemption through whiskey appreciation. Here director Loach and his regular screenwriter Paul Laverty take sincere interest in warming both the heart and the gullet, and thus what might have been a devastating drama develops new buoyancy, swerving without fuss into heist-intensive light farce. Loach stretches, all right, even going so far as to score a montage with The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” as if only now deeming the mainstream crowd-pleaser tricks of 20 years ago safe for socially conscious consumption. Like the rapturously boozy fumes to which its title alludes, the movie all but evaporates. This is not a complaint.