Based on the book by Douglas Lindsay, Barney Thomson (Robert Carlyle) is a socially inept and awkward barber who leads a bland existence, taken for granted and by those around him until an escalating set of macabre circumstances make him the prime suspect in a police investigation into a series of grizzly murders… some of which he may have inadvertently committed.
Directing and starring has suited Carlyle well as he manages to balance sympathy and despair for this feckless protagonist while keeping the audience on side in spite of the death and destruction in his wake. Emma Thompson is truly chameleon-like in her turn as his chain-smoking, headstrong, elderly mother, stealing every scene with her wily temperament and leather-faced gesticulations. Sadly, the Ray Winstone we see here is pretty much the same Ray Winstone that inhabits most Ray Winstone movies. That’s not to say he’s bad in the role, but perhaps some attempt at a character would’ve been a welcome change.
Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut offers up a darkly comedic farce that works harmoniously with its downbeat setting. The humour in each scene, the rich cast of characters and the comedic beats are intrinsically Glaswegian, add to that the stellar “crooner’esque” soundtrack and The Legend of Barney Thomson delivers an oddly timeless quirk with many pitch-black moments of gory fun.
The Legend of Barney Thomson opens on 24th July
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