Cannes Film Festival preview: Whisky galore for premiere of new Ken Loach film

A Saltire soaked in whisky should fly over the Croisette next month for the world premiere of Ken Loach’s latest Scottish-set film The Angels’ Share during the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival, writes Richard Mowe in Paris

Thierry Fremaux, the festival’s artistic director who unveiled full the line-up in the Grand Hotel in Paris, told me that he had to persuade Loach to be part of the competition.

“Ken was a bit reluctant because the film is a comedy, but I told him that we needed lightness in the competition, and he agreed. We’re delighted to have him back, especially because many of his Scottish films have been premiered in Cannes.”

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Scripted by regular collaborator Paul Laverty, The Angels’ Share introduces Robbie, an ex-offender and new father who embarks on an adventure with his new found friends to a whisky distillery and discovers that turning to drink might just change his life.

Aided and abetted his father, a criminal who wants his son to lead a better life, he hooks up with his buddies on community service and they devise a new, legal money-making plan involving malt whisky.

Starring newcomer Paul Brannigan, the film is a bitter sweet comedy caper, unlike many of Loach’s previous gritty contenders such as My Name is Joe and Sweet Sixteen, both of which had Cannes Launches. It is fifth film in Scotland.

The cast features Loach regulars John Henshaw (Looking for Eric), William Ruane (The Wind that Shakes the Barley), Gary Maitland (Sweet Sixteen), Roger Allam (Tamara Drewe). As well as Paul Brannigan, other new Scottish talents in the cast inclue Siobhan Reilly and Jasmin Riggins. Loach set Martin Compston on the road to international fame in Sweet Sixteen.

Loach is a firm favourite at Cannes, with many European audiences taking to his gritty portrayals of urban life more than British cinemagoers.

And he has already won universal acclaim from critics at Cannes for the performances he drew from the untrained teenage actors making their debuts.

But critics were relieved that Loach added English subtitles to Sweet Sixteen for the Cannes screening out of fear that the thick Scottish accents would be incomprehensible to some. It is not known whether The Angels’ Share will require similar treatment.

Loach, a master of “kitchen sink” movies, first came to prominence in the 1960s with the powerful TV film Cathy Come Home, which made a generation in Britain aware of the corrosive effect of homelessness Kes - his 1969 tale of a young boy and his falcon - was hailed a masterpiece.

Another Scottish element at Cannes will be provided by Tilda Swinton, who stars in Moonrise Kingdom (screening out of competition) alongside Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Jason Schwartzman.

Wes Anderson co-wrote the screenplay with Roman Coppola. Moonrise Kingdom takes place on an island in New England during the course of a stormy summer in 1965 when the townsfolk run after a young boy and girl who elope. Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward play the lovers. It is Anderson’s first live-action film since 2007’s The Darjeeling Limited.

The festival will end on a poignant note when the late French director Claude Miller’s Therese Desqueyroux closes the event on 27 May. He died earlier this month, just after finishing the editing of the film.

Therese Desqueyroux stars Audrey Tautou in the title role alongside Gilles Lellouche and Anais Demoustier in the adaptation of Francois Mauriac’s novel Therese Desqueyroux. Tautou plays an unhappily married woman trying to break out of her banal provincial life in 1920s France.

David Cronenberg’s son Brandon will screen his first film Antiviral in the sidebar Un Certain Regard section. Meanwhile his father’s Cosmopolis will also appear in Competition on the Croisette. Based on a Don DeLillo novel, Cosmopolis stars Robert Pattinson as a billionaire heading across Manhattan for a haircut as he risks assassination and financial turmoil. The film boasts an international cast including Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Gadon and Jay Baruchel.

Sure to cause a stir in Un Certain Regard will be Sylvie Verheyde’s Confession d’un enfant du siecle starring unlikely on screen duo Charlotte Gainsbourg and Pete Doherty.

Catherine Corsini’s Three Worlds starring Raphael Personnaz and Clotilde Hesme will also represent France.

Walter Salles’ On the Road, Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy and Michael Haneke’s Amour will join Rust and Bone by Jacques Audiard for the jamboree.

Also screening in the competition are Holy Motors by Leos Carax and more US titles such as Jeff Nichol’s Mud, and Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly with Brad Pitt and Ray Liotta.

Italian director and Cannes regular, Nanni Moretti, who won the Palme d’Or with The Son’s Room in 2001, will preside over 65th edition of festival. Moretti said it was a “real joy, honour and tremendous responsibility” to lead the jury.

“As a director, I was always moved when my films were presented at the Cannes Film Festival. I also have very happy memories of my experience as a jury member during the fiftieth anniversary season and of the attentiveness and passion that went into the jury’s viewing and discussion of the films,” said the 59-year-old director.

“As a spectator, fortunately I still have the same curiosity that I had in my youth and so it is a great privilege for me to embark on this voyage into the world of contemporary international film,” he added.

The Cannes Film Festival runs from 16 - 27 May.