Ken Loach has always had a flair for comedy. Whether it's the football match in Kes (one of Brian Glover's finest moments) or Ricky Tomlinson trying to catch a sheep in Raining Stones or Peter Mullan up to mischief in My Name Is Joe, his work abounds in lively, comic business. However, the humour is invariably counterbalanced by bleakness.
In The Angels' Share (scripted by his regular collaborator Paul Laverty), the balance has shifted. There is violence and deprivation but, for once, Loach provides a way out.
This is one of his funniest and most invigorating films – the closest he has come to making a traditional crowd pleaser. Not that this means he is softening up. His anger at the way unemployed youngsters are treated is self-evident. However, his aim here is to show what they have to offer, if only given the chance.
A film that starts with its lead character (very engagingly played by newcomer Paul Brannigan) sentenced to community service and at a dead-end develops into a thoroughly enjoyable yarn about whisky tasting and Highland heists. Imagine Trainspotting re-imagined as an Ealing comedy and you'll come close to its essence.