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The Independent Critic

Eddie Izzard, Gregor Fisher, Tim Pigott-Smith, Ellie Kendrick, Naomi Battrick, Sean Biggerstaff, Kevin Guthrie, James Cosmo
Gillies Mackinnon
Peter McDougall
98 Mins.
Arrow Films

 "Whisky Galore" a Mostly Dry Remake of a 1949 Classic  

The 1949 original film Whisky Galore was based upon a book by Compton McKenzie and is considered by many to be a classic. With more information at hand and an immense talent pool from which to pick, director Gillies Mackinnon brings this popular story to life in an updated version, including being in color, and the film arrives here in the U.S. on May 12th with a screening at Laemmle Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills kicking off what distributor Arrow Films must hope is the beginning of a solid arthouse run for the film. 

The film is set in World War II Scotland, not exactly an area severely impacted by the war but one that did, in real life, experience a serious shortage of whisky that is both played seriously and for laughs in Whisky Galore. When a ship runs aground, the residents of the small island of Todday hatch a plot to free the ship of its plentiful whisky before the ship sinks. The main problem being that Todday happens to be a rather religious island and this all unfolds on what happens to be a Sunday and Macalister (James Cosmo), the local minister, doesn't take kindly to folks missing their Sunday services. 

It doesn't take long, of course, for people to figure out a way to work around the obstacles despite the semi-watchful eye of Captain Wagget (Eddie Izzard). 

Kudos must be given to the film's production team for their efforts in creating a vibrant, period appropriate village. Andy Harris's production design is top notch, while Nigel Willoughby's lensing is pristine and adds vibrance throughout the film. Patrick Doyle's original music, as well, companions the film quite nicely. 

The film's ensemble cast is certainly game for the mission at hand, Eddie Izzard ideally suited for this type of material while Gregor Fisher also excels here. Annie Louise Ross is one of the film's key foils, along with Izzard, and James Cosmo, Sean Biggerstaff, Ellie Kendrick and Kevin Guthrie all do fine work in this fairly straightforward remake of a film that, if we're being honest, really didn't need to be remade. 

That said, if anyone's going to do it then Arrow is likely the distributor for the job as they've got a long history of bringing new life to cinematic classics. While this isn't destined to be one of their best, fans of the the original film or the story would likely do well to catch this one when the opportunity arises. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic