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Review: Whisky Galore! – “Highly enjoyable”

Sometimes it is possible to boil a review down into two sentences:

  • This is an excellent film to watch with your mum.
  • If you drink whisky, you’ll probably want to have a glass with the film.

In 1942 a cargo ship carrying rather a lot of whisky ran aground and was abandoned near a small Scottish island where people had boats. Although it sounds like the start of a mildly offensive joke, it is in fact a true story and the setup for the plot of Whisky Galore!

Whisky Galore! is based on a film that is based on a book that is based on a true story. If you think that is a long way to go, you are probably right: the original crime and cash robbery is whitewashed into an entirely heartwarming Wes-Anderson-does-last-of-the-summer-wine-in-Scotland affair.

It’s highly enjoyable. We’ll gloss over the plot (largely as the film does) and get onto the characters. There are a large number of subtle, understated, performances of ’simple Scottish folk’. Then there is Eddie Izzard.

Izzard is both the best and the worst thing about the production: for a quarter of the time he’s clearly being himself in a wonderfully joyous way (“That’s *drunk* music”) that manages to fit the story, for another quarter of the time he’s successfully playing a character, but the rest of the time he’s being himself when the character clearly should be doing something else. It’s either poor casting on a lack of discipline.

Everybody else is firmly on message. Fenella Woolgar is note perfect as Izzard’s wife.. I am unable to comment on how good Naomi Battrick’s accent is, but the way she says ‘unwarranted’ leaves me demanding to leave it just as it is, thank you. People play various heartwarming stereotypes in a range of ways. The script occasionally suffers from going a little bit too close to Dad’s Army, and in general there is a little too much clumsy exposition, but it stays on subject and Scottish Island life is portrayed so pleasantly, and whiskey as such a vital cure for all social ill that I was astonished to find that it wasn’t funded by the Scottish Tourist Board.

Whisky Galore! is in UK cinemas on 19th May 2017.

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