M FILM – A Killer Black Comedy

The Legend of Barney Thomson is the story of a downtrodden barber in working class Glasgow

Best known for his role in the feel-good comedy The Full Monty, Scottish actor Robert Carlyle more typically plays unsavoury lowlifes as he did so memorably in Trainspotting and Shallow Grave. He makes his directorial debut with the black comedy The Legend of Barney Thomson, and does double duty as its titular star, a downtrodden barber in working class Glasgow. Sneered at by his coworkers and unpopular with customers, the hapless Barney accidentally kills his boss and then makes the terrible decision to make the body disappear. Unfortunately for this natural born klutz, there is a serial killer presently at work in the city, and once a police inspector named Holdall (the great Ray Winstone) asks the ever-so-nervous Barney some questions about his boss’s disappearance, the cop is convinced he’s found the killer.

Barney is a momma’s boy – and what a momma he’s got. A foul-mouthed bingo addict who’s a tough-as-nails slag with no redeeming features, Cemolina (Emma Thompson) finds out about Barney’s jam and takes charge with ruthless efficiency. But Barney’s continuing ineptitude, a second death at the barbershop, and a power struggle in the police department as Holdall gets outmaneuvered by a younger female detective who hates his guts, all combine into a satisfying recipe for morbidly gruesome fun.

Notwithstanding the frequent grotesqueries – such as the serial killer mailing body parts of his victims to horrified relatives – Legend should appeal to most broad-minded fans of British cinema. Carlyle has set his film in a rough blue-collar milieu, but manages to show the characters’ foibles without being patronizing. The film maybe isn’t quite as funny as it thinks it is, but the quirky tone is consistent and there is an internal logic to the plot and the behaviour of the main characters.

The impressive lead performances occasionally overpower the sometimes-routine storyline, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when you have actors as great as Carlyle and Winstone anchoring a black comedy that aspires to some social realism. But the real eye-opener here is the previously prim Emma Thompson, who is shockingly unpleasant but never cartoonish in a role that is a million miles away from her work in Harry Potter and Sense and Sensibility.

The Legend of Barney Thomson ***

Stars Robert Carlyle, Emma Thompson, Ray Winstone

Directed by Robert Carlyle

COMING SOON:

Eye In The Sky

The great Helen Mirren plays a tough-mnded colonel in a military drama about anti-terrorism that examines how drones and other modern technology have complicated the morality of modern warfare.

Collide

Charming English actor Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road) bungles a heist and is on the run from a ruthless mob boss (Anthony Hopkins), in a high-octane chase flick costarring Felicity Jones and Ben Kingsley.

I Saw The Light

This biopic of country legend Hank Williams chronicles the genius and self-destruction of the singer-songwriter who created some of the most iconic songs in American music.

The Boss

Comedic heavyweight Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) plays a captain of industry who gets nailed for insider trading and sent to prison. When she gets out, her efforts to rebrand herself don’t convince her still-angry victims. With Peter Dinklage, Kristen Bell, and Kathy Bates.

The Jungle Book

Rudyard Kipling’s classic adventure tale about a man-cub raised by a family of wolves gets a live-action treatment with the animals voiced by Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, and Christopher Walken.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Nia Vardalos, John Corbett and Lainie Kazan reunite for another Greek-to-the-max wedding as this sensationally popular feel-good comedy from 2002 gets what is sure to be a rambunctious sequel.

 

 

Just Posted

Magic creates emotion: Jason Verners launches Milennial

by James Kasper Victoria’s Jason Verners is an entertainer on the rise.… Continue reading

Women’s changing role in war

The presence of women in the Canadian military goes back over a century

BC Hydro issues storm safety tips

Bulletin indicates “electrical contact incidents resulting in serious injury are on the rise.”

Meta-theatrical approach eschews realism in The Madwoman of Chaillot at the Phoenix

Sheila Martindale The scenery is gorgeous and evocative – take a bow… Continue reading

Most Read