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Ken Loach doing another of these light-hearted comedies with a social edge…  He cannot but start this film about Robbie, a good-for-nothing but not perfectly crooked Glaswegian lad who tries to reestablish his life after messing up royally through bouts of drink, drugs and violence. Loach shows early on (and has it voiced by one of the characters later on, but by then we understood already) that there is no way you can escape this rotten and wretched social environment if you once were so much part of it.

Only when it comes to finding a mechanism to escape does the film show its light side: He goes North, the film injects a bit of a road movie feeling into the story, and as the road Robbie and his buddies from community service are travelling leads way up into the Scottish Highlands, that is very pleasant to watch. The plan they have is a wee bit moronic and forces suspension of disbelief quite a bit, but by then it’s a comedy, and they get away with it. There is a very expensive cask of whiskey somewhere up North, and that cask must come to the rescue of these good-hearted, but somehow failed characters.

Loach never forgets that he loves these guys, and that he has a profound understanding of how they got to become who they are, that it is very difficult for them to reinvent their lives. He tweaks and twists the story line to make it possible, but cannot hold back to shatter one dream or the other along the way.

With Roger Allam (he of “The Thick of It” fame – need to watch this once every year!) and John Henshaw there are two lovable “grown-up” characters holding pressure against the immature goofing of Robbie and his friends, and the oddities of the Whiskey tasting and collecting culture provides a nice tapestry on which some shenanigans can be painted.

The film is a bit of an odd mix, in its social calamity and its stoner road movie segments, but in the end, it is very funny, a pleasure to watch for all the reasons mentioned. Subtitles recommended…

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