Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5
Alternate title: The Legend of Barney Thomson
Canada/United Kingdom, 2015. Trinity Works Entertainment, Sigma Films, Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit Program, Creative Scotland, Icon Film Distribution, Movie Central, The Movie Network, Myriad Pictures, Province of British Columbia, Telefilm Canada, Westerkick Capital. Screenplay by Richard Cowan, Colin McLaren, based on the book Thee Long Midnight of Barney Thompson by Douglas Lindsay. Cinematography by Fabian Wagner. Produced by Holly Brydson, Brian Coffey,Richard Cowan, Kaleena Kiff, John G. Lenic. Production Design by Ross Dempster. Costume Design by Sharon Long. Film Editing by Mike Banas.
Robert Carlyle‘s directorial debut stars him as a barber who can’t get any respect at work. His frequent outbursts of temper have turned off both his fellow employees and his customers, forcing his boss to move him to a chair at the back of the shop away from the main action. When Carlyle’s attempt to defend his honour results in an accidental murder, he finds himself needing to dispose of a body; thankfully, his foul-tempered, bingo-playing mother (Emma Thompson in ineffective old age makeup) is on hand to help. Meanwhile, throughout Glasgow a serial killer is leaving severed body parts, a case that an angry London cop who resents working in Scotland (Ray Winstone) is working on while arguing with his rival (Ashley Jensen) who makes his life miserable.
Shoddy writing and slack direction can only help a grimy story that already has very little to offer: the whole thing is the definition of graceless, providing few rewards other than the chance to see a bunch of great actors rehearsing their abilities before getting on to better projects. Thompson’s humorous portrayal and snarky accent are good fun, but despite her talent and the hard work done on the facial prosthesis, there is simply no buying her as Carlyle’s mother and it takes away the film’s one shot of having any substance at the heart of its good-natured silliness.