Complete A-Z list

Legend of Barney Thomson, The


Stars: Robert Carlyle, Emma Thompson, Ray Winstone, Ashley Jensen, Tom Courtenay, Martin Compston, James Cosmo

Director: Robert Carlyle

Well, this is a laugh a minute. Just give me a tick, while I try to remember where the minute was. Painted in painfully broad brushstrokes, however, the comedy may still appeal to the undemanding laff-seeker.

Barney (Carlyle) is a middle-aged Glasgow barber. He's bad-tempered and stony-faced, and no one wants him to cut their hair - although one reason might be his own truly annoying haircut.

Besides the many tribulations of life, Barney is also beset by a harridan mother (Thompson, impressively made up but way, way over the top for far too long). Meanwhile, a serial killer is loose on the streets, and one who is chopping their victims up and sending bits to their relatives.

A quintet of comic policemen on the case, headed by Courtenay in perhaps his most demeaning role, includes Winstone as a cockney inspector adrift north of the border, and Jensen as his bumptious Scottish counterpart who delights in being given the case over his head; both offer performances far too broad for black comedy, doubtless the fault of Carlyle, whose debut direction this is.

Well, Barney, threatened with the sack, accidentally kills the boss's son in the barbershop, then also accidentally his suspicious co-worker (Compston) too. The first death is reasonably well staged, but the second is ludicrously unconvincing.

Everyone swears far too much for the good of the film here, only emphasising the farcical, juvenile, TV-sketch nature of its characterisations.

David Quinlan

Canada/Scotland 2015. UK Distributor: Trinity (Icon). Colour by Panalux.
91 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 21 Jul 2015