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The Legend of Barney Thomson

Thursday 26 November 2015, by Abla Kandalaft

Carlyle plays the titular role of socially inept barber in his entertaining directorial debut, based on the first of a series of novels by Douglas Lindsay. The film kicks off with two seemingly unrelated stories unfolding in Glasgow; awkward and unpredictable Barney is unpopular with customers; he is unhappy and frustrated and is on the verge of being fired from his job. A serial killer is cutting up the bodies of young men and posting various parts to the police.

A not altogether random set of circumstances, precipitated by an argument at work, leads Detective Inspector Holdall (Ray Winstone, true to form) to suspect Barney of the crimes. The latter sets out clumsily covering his tracks with the somewhat unwelcome help of his bullying, boozed up, chain-smoking mother (a leopard-print clad, frightening and brilliantly comic turn by Emma Thompson).

Robert Carlyle is always eminently watchable and likeable, but is somewhat miscast as the hapless, downtrodden Barney, a character that doesn’t quite play to his many strengths and screen presence. However, his direction of the rest of the cast-including the consistently great Martin Compston-is inspired. The film feels at times lightweight, but what it lacks in depth, it makes up in offbeat humour and visually arresting shots of a grim, damp, crimson-tinged Glasgow.

Laughs are to be found mainly in the little nooks and crannies of the films, the odd jibes, the off-hand remarks, the unexpected outbursts.
The plot is somewhat predictable and largely improbable but its absurdity for the most part does serve its energetic charm.

Robert Carlyle has confirmed that the film will get a US release through film distributor Gravitas Ventures.

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