Whisky Galore! (4 stars)

Whisky Galore!

EIFF 2016: Successful remake of the Ealing favourite, with Eddie Izzard and Gregor Fisher

Adapted from the novel by Compton MacKenzie, itself based on true events, the 1949 Ealing comedy Whisky Galore! is a short, sprightly trifle about wily Scots conspiring to outwit the officious English. This 2016 reimagining, written by Peter McDougall and directed by Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky), makes substantial changes while staying true to the subtle charm of the original film.

When a stranded ship washes up on nearby rocks, the villagers of the tiny Scottish island of Todday are desperate to plunder the onboard cargo of whisky, particularly since their island is perilously close to being without booze due to wartime prohibitions. The pompous Captain Wagget (Eddie Izzard) is keen to thwart all attempts to liberate the amber nectar, while local hero Macroon (Gregor Fisher) leads ingenious endeavours to befuddle the military’s efforts.

This fresh take on Whisky Galore! makes good use of an ideal location in Portsoy, Aberdeenshire and is crisply shot by Nigel Willoughby, with a jaunty Patrick Doyle score. But the real star is McDougall’s script – wry and acerbic without ever resorting to crude caricatures. A newly added subplot, alluding to a missing box of official secrets detailing royal connections to Nazism, is skillfully integrated, although providing a satisfying resolution to the multiple plotlines proves to be MacKinnon’s undoing in a rather low-key finale.

The very opposite of the whimsical tartan tat of many Scottish comedy productions, Whisky Galore! has the rare feel of a film made by Scots for Scots, an uncommon fidelity which may prove costly in terms of attracting an international audience. Yet, as with Bill Forsyth’s best work, the film’s bonhomie might just have universal appeal; such gentle humour may be lost on some, but Whisky Galore! offers a true taste of Scotland that’s well worth acquiring.

Screened on Sun 26 Jun as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016. General release TBC.

Whisky Galore!

  • 4 stars
  • 2016
  • UK
  • 100 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Gillies MacKinnon
  • Cast: Gregor Fisher, Eddie Izzard, James Cosmo, Kevin Guthrie, Sean Biggerstaff, Naomi Battrick, Ellie Kendrick

A new version of the 1949 film about the inhabitants of Todday, who are running out of their whisky ration when a cargo ship runs aground on the island.

Comments

1. Leonard Collins31 Jan 2017, 12:54pm Report

Where can I watch the 2016 remake of the film Whisky Galore?

2. Douglas Gibb29 Apr 2017, 6:40pm Report

Utterly shocked that the original Alexander McKendrick film is described as 'a trifle'. It is pretty universally acknowledged to be a masterpiece, by Scotland's greatest director. Having rewatched it quite recently I would absolutely agree. It is amazingly watchable for a film of its vintage, with moments of gentle poetry that go way beyond the 'Ealing' label. Has the reviewer even seen the film dismissed so casually?

3. King Ralph 112 May 2017, 2:35pm Report

This reviewer doesn't know anything about Bill Forsyth. If he did, he wouldn't put this dreary piece of kitsch in the same sentence. Weird that he's the only reviewer in Scotland who thinks this dog is worth acquiring. I saw this and the audience didn't laugh, let alone love it

Post a comment
RSS feed of these comments