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.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on film production on central and north Vancouver Island, says Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Pictured here, production of TV series Resident Alien in Ladysmith earlier this year. (Black Press file)
Film commissioner says COVID-19 cost central Island $6 million in economic activity

Jurassic World: Dominion, Chesapeake Shores among productions halted due to pandemic, says INFilm

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Vancouver Island actress finds success in a virtual world

Black Creek’s Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

Artist Daniel Cline discusses his sculpture, Harmony Humpbacks, during the June 20 walking tour of Oak Bay’s 2019 ArtsAlive sculptures. Harmony Humpbacks was purchased by Oak Bay as the 2019 people’s choice winner and is permanently installed at the Beach Drive entrance to Willows Park. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Influx of donated art a ‘fantastic problem to have,’ says Oak Bay mayor

Oak Bay goes from zero to 10 permanent art pieces since 2015

Stephen Laidlaw, prepator with Nanaimo Art Gallery, hangs a photograph of Anna Wong, a B.C. print maker whose works are on display at the gallery. The exhibit opens Friday, Dec. 4, and runs until Feb. 7. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit explores life work of overlooked B.C. printmaker

‘Anna Wong: Traveller on Two Roads’ features more than 70 art works and personal belongings

Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus released their first joint album, <em>The Invasion</em>. (Photo courtesy Raymond Knight)
Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus release first joint album

Duo plan elaborate live-streamed CD release for ‘The Invasion’

Next month Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases his solo debut album, ‘Wildlife.’ (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases solo debut album

New record ‘Wildlife’ about taking chances and going through changes

Dover Bay Secondary School student Victoria Hathfield’s poem <em>Dear Santa</em> appears in<em> Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air</em>. (Photo courtesy Darren Lee)
Nanaimo high schooler has first poem published in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’

Victoria Hathfield’s ‘Dear Santa’ appears in new Christmas-themed edition of anthology series

Nanaimo graphic designer Amy Pye has written and illustrated her first children’s book, <em>G is for Grizzly Bear: A Canadian Alphabet</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Nanaimo graphic designer releases first children’s book

Amy Pye teaches the Canadian alphabet in ‘G is for Grizzly Bear’

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s Back Row Brass Quintet – including trumpeter Mark D’Angelo, tuba player Nick Atkinson and French horn player Karen Hough (from left) – were scheduled to tour the Nanaimo area with Christmas Under the Big Tent, but the concert series has now been cancelled. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)
Symphony brass quintet’s Christmas concert series cancelled

Performances were to happen at venues in Parksville and Lantzville next month

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse, near Shirley. (Contributed - Lee-Ann Ruttan)
New book shines a light on Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Publication examines history, lightkeepers, and volunteer society

Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre on Nov. 27. (Photo credit Tatum Duryba)
Classical guitarist to play at the Port Theatre

Eric Harper to play new songs composed during the pandemic

Most Read