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Comedy - Black

The Legend of Barney Thomson (2015)

Duration1h 36m
RatingsUK: 15
Source of storyA book “The Long Midnight of Barney Thompson” by Douglas Lindsay
DirectorRobert Carlyle
Writers/ScriptRichard Cowan, Colin McLaren
StarringRobert Carlyle, Emma Thompson, Ray Winstone, Tom Courtney, Ashley Jenson, James Cosmo, Martin Compson, 
RatingsIMDb: 6.3 by 5,202 people. Rotten Tomatoes: 62% by 37 reviewers.

Elevator Pitch: In Glasgow a serial killer is mailing body parts of men to their nearest and dearest, but the police are baffled. Meanwhile, Barney Thomson is a barber in an establishment now controlled by the boss’s son. He is given to angry outbursts, putting the clients off and so is given a month’s notice. But he accidently terminates the boss with a pair of scissors and so, realising that he would be in the frame for murder, gains the help of his mother who lives in the multis, and is part of the old farts social milieu of the city. He is surprised to find that his mother has cut up the body and stored in in her freezer. When he accidentally also kills his fellow barber there is no more room in the freezer, so he has to take other action.

Content: There is no sex or nudity although a penis is one of the mailed items recovered by the police. I thought that the film might be a candidate for most uses of the f— word, but no-one has counted up to now. There are scenes in the barber’s shop, in Barney’s mother’s flat and in the police station, the police continuing to be clueless, and the two inspectors involved in the case swearing constantly at each other. There are also many scenes in Barrowlands and other down at the heel areas of Glasgow, and at one point at a greyhound track. 

A View: The critics who did not like this felt that it was brutal and black but was not much of a comedy. I am an Englishman with a great fondness for Scotland where I lived for many years, and so I really enjoyed the settings and the well photographed disreputable areas of Glasgow. Ray Winstone and the rest of the cast were terrific with Emma Thompson on another planet, suggesting that Robert Carlyle could be a talented and considerate director. So quite a bit of fun, but maybe only if you like that sort of thing.

Additional Info: It seems that the number of theatres in which a film is released is key to its success, and 70, the number for this film is not enough. It grossed just over a million dollars worldwide.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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