Screen Reviews

Whiskey Galore

A ship full of whiskey collides with a rock in the Outer Hebrides during WW2 saving the local population from almost certain sobriety.

Whiskey Galore

directed by Gillies MacKinnon

starring Eddie Izzard, Sean Biggerstaff, Gregor Fisher

Arrow Films

I think the best adjective for this 2016 film is “droll.” It’s a comedy, but not a laugh out loud one; it builds on well-defined characters and stereotypes and the jokes land gently. Its excellent cinematography draws you in and makes you appreciate your easy access to fine spirits. Loosely “based on a real story,” we have a small remote island tightening their belts for war. The local bar has run completely dry, and there is no booze in sight. Even this commodity goes to the troops or the Yanks in trade for weapon and cash. But one sober night there’s a mighty crunching sound, and out on the rock everyone knows to avoid the islander discover an impaled ship. The crew evacuates safely, the wrecked ship teeters on the edge of sinking, and it’s Sunday. No salvage on Sunday, not according to the local preacher. Monday comes, the booze is removed and hidden. Soon after the Excise Man comes to impound their flammable treasure, but rest assured, this whiskey will not go to waste. And at the rate they are burning through it, it won’t last long either.

Anything shot in this part of the world is going to look beautiful, especially on Blu-Ray. The acting is excellent, Eddie Izzard maintains a slow burn for the entire movie as the frustrated British officer Captain Waggett charged with safekeeping this remote rock. In the interview special features, he claims to not be a comedian, but he was always good for an unintentional giggle. As the central character, Joseph Macroon (Fisher) mixes the officiousness of the island postmaster and store keeper with the brooding sentimentality that marks these remote lands. He sees his daughters Peggy and Catriona (Naomi Battrick and Ellie Kendrick) marrying and moving off island to the flesh pots of Glasgow, and he worries for the future of the island. The daughters are positive, attractive and just the sort of home town girl you’d write into this island melodrama. The supporting cast is full of inexplicable accents, gentle Bonhomme, and incipient alcoholism under an amazingly clear sky. Pad it out and explore the peripheral characters and this could easily be a BBC miniseries. Despite a little language and implied sexuality, this clean, friendly film that charms and never lectures. It doesn’t even need subtitles, and might make you head over to visit the Outer Hebrides. They’ve even got their own distillery, just in case.

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