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This crime-comedy is lead actor Robert Carlyle's directorial debut. In
it he plays the title character who is a late middle-aged barber living
a life of humiliations who accidentally kills his boss after an
argument, leading to a chain reaction of ever worsening events.
Typified by distinctive on-location shooting in the east end of Glasgow, this is a pretty good effort all round. It benefits from some effective comic acting by its cast, aside from Carlyle himself the two other standouts are Ray Winstone as a cockney cop displeased to be stationed north of the border and, best of all, working under heavy make-up Emma Thompson is very convincing as Carlyle's elderly Glaswegian mother; as per usual she puts in fine work here and nails her character pretty firmly. The plot-line isn't really massively interesting to be fair and, instead, the film works as a character-driven comedy. Fortunately, the characters are, for the most part, well-drawn and the comedy is often pretty funny. Things are ultimately rounded off with a finale that is perhaps a little predictable once the basic set-up is established but for this it can be forgiven. All-in-all, while it doesn't exactly break the mould, this film is still a pretty solid bit of fun.
Greatly enjoyed this film. The weakest element is probably the story
which is on the improbable end of the spectrum but, as long as you
forgive the absurdity of the plot and just go with the flow, it's a
thoroughly enjoyable 90 minutes. They could also possibly have done
with a little more explanation of the back-story rather than jumping
straight in - some might find it all a little complicated especially in
the first half hour. The comedy is uniquely Glasgow and the language
typically (and authentically!) blue. Visually it's all nicely shot with
some of the more off-beat Glasgow landmarks featuring prominently. The
acting is great with, as others have noted, standout performances by
both Emma Thomson & Ray Winstone. I can't help thinking that Robert
Carlyle as Director got better performances out of his other leads than
he did out of Robert Carlyle (Actor) - perhaps the double
responsibility of first time director and lead actor was a little too
much to pull off. Not that his performance was bad, just a little
lacking in finesse in places.
Minor criticisms apart, this is a very enjoyable movie and well worth watching.
This is a funny noir comedy, well made with an excellent cast. I really
like Carlyle so I could not be completely impartial.
It is a film that gives you some laughs, but it does not let you to yell to miracle. I don't see it as a cult movie (like could be "The Full Monty" to me) as I have read here in the comments. It needed something more.
The actors and the dialogue are the masters here, but also the scenery, the photograph is taken care of. It is well packaged but the plot is not very thorough, it might have been better use the element of surprise and a few more dialog jokes would not hurt at all too. It is not very exciting and it feel like a little flat.
In any case, the movie has managed to put a smile on my face from beginning to end giving me a few very good laugh.
A good debut for Carlyle as a director with some space for improvement.
It should be 7/10 to me.
The titular Barney Thomson (Robert Carlyle) is a less than friendly
man, he complains about many things and is generally unapproachable.
One day he stumbles upon a series of hazardously unfortunate events
which lead him into awkward world of crime. This is a very distinct
style of comedy, which can be poignantly funny at times, but also
riddled with tons of profanity and can be even resentful, thus it
probably caters to more adult audience.
Acting is sharply over-the-top as Barney wonders into sillier antics than the last, involving his strange mom as well as detectives hell bent on pursuing a serial killer. It's a harsh unapologetic direction for comedy, a bit similar to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, certainly not a light watch for casual or younger audience, but for mature demographic the oddities might be a treat.
The cast performs with intense gusto and yelling, which is also one of the movie's quirks. Its accent is very thick, when said in fast pace it can be confusing, so subtitles would be helpful for this case. It can be jarring when the movie tries to pull off a strangely dark tone, borderline uncomfortably so. Furthermore, the actors seem truly invested on delivering all around antagonizing characters, thus there's no real heroes here.
The movie could be vulgar at times, yet its crude and bloody nature might be ironically entertaining.
Robert Carlyle's directional debut The Legend Of Barney Thomsen is as pitch friggin black as dark comedies get, and is a side splitting royal circus of cheekily depressing, gloriously gory antics that would make the inhabitants of Fargo run for cover. It also has the distinct flavour of Scotland on its side, every character articulating with a soup thick, snark oozing brogue that throws a devilishly funny haze over the already hilarious comic material. Carlyle plays pathetic barber Barney Thomsen, a volatile, feeble little man who's been relegated to the worst chair in the barbershop, and told what an aggravating, listless nonce he is by his colleagues ("you look like a haunted tree" his supervisor intones in dead seriousness). When they threaten to fire him, he accidentally murders his supervisor with a pair of scissors, and kicks offa blood soaked odyssey of such head banging idiocracy that one can only view this as an ultraviolent looney toons cartoon of murder and madness. Barney finds himself in way over his head and tries to excavate himself out of the dodgy situation he got himself into. There's also a serial killer on the loose in Glasgow that likes to mail body parts to the police, including a dick and a full severed human buttocks, in giddily explicit detail. He's pursued by a maniacal police detective played by Ray Winstone, who plays the role like a Christmas ham hooked up to jumper cable powered by methamphetamine. For an actor to out-crazy Robert Carlyle takes a lot of effort, but Winstone is game, pulling the cork of sanity right out for a howlingly funny piece of work. And then there's Emma Thompson. Holeee crap. I've never seen her cut loose like she does here, playing Barney's cantankerous, potty mouthed, shrivelled old walnut of a mother. She's caked in paper mâché looking makeup and gurgles forth the funniest Scottish accenting the film. You'd have to check the credits to know its Thompson having a bit of fun from her usual serious fare as this skanky, deplorable old baboon and loving every minute of it. Thrown in James Cosmo and a priceless Tom Courtney as a cynical Superintendent, and you've got a cast that's game to give their all for director Carlyle, whose already established competence in off kilter comedic acting clearly extends wonderfully behind the camera as well. A blistering powder keg to kick off 2016, and a full on blood soaked barrel of laughs.
I watched this in a cinema and there was a lot of laughter coming from
the audience. One man even laughed at the first line. The laughing
I would have given the film 10 stars but the story is a bit ridiculous. But, since it is comedy, and IS funny this didn't seem to matter too much. The ending was amusing too.
The film is beautifully shot and the acting is 1st class. My favourite line delivered brilliantly by Emma is "I label everything." And I agree with another reviewer that in the future, this may be considered a cult classic.
Review: This movie definitely has a unique but weird storyline with
some brilliant performances from the cast, especially Emma Thompson and
Ray Winstone. It's hard to explain the plot without spoiling it for the
people who haven't watched it but I will give it a go! The story takes
place in Glasgow and it's about a barber called Barney (Robert
Carlyle), who has very little people skills and finds it hard to chat
to the customers who come to the shop for there haircut. After a while,
the shop owner decides to employ a fresh new barber who is willing to
interact with the customers, so he eventually sacks Barney who takes
the news quite badly because he hasn't got any other forms of pleasure
in his life. Whilst pleading to stay employed with the shop owner, a
random accident happens which changes Barney's life forever. He runs to
his mum, Cemolina (Emma Thompson), for help, only to find that she also
has many skeletons in her closet as well. Whilst under investigation
from the hot headed cop Holdall (Ray Winstone), he tries to cover his
tracks from the fatal accident that happened with his boss but his work
colleague works out what Barney has been up to, so they also have an
heated argument which leads to another fatal accident. Anyway, to cut a
long story short, Barney disposes the bodies with the cops hot on his
tale but they soon work out who is the true culprit of the murders in
the area, which leads to a showdown that really isn't what was
expected! If you take this movie seriously, you really won't enjoy it
because the far fetched storyline really does go a bit over the top in
places. Although Barney had a motif for the first murder, he should
have just gone to the police because it was an honest mistake, which
they would have worked out with forensics. With that aside, Ray
Winstone just plays his usual cockney self but he does show some true
emotion in parts of the film. Emma Thompson's transformation was
excellent and her accent was spot on, along with her mannerisms and
"hard woman/mother" demeanor which is far from the everyday Emma
Thompson that we have seen in real life. The storyline was a bit
sketchy in places but this extremely dark comedy was well put together
well by Robert Carlyle. The showdown at the end was a bit ridiculous
and I personally thought that it spoilt the movie but it's still worth
a watch, just for its originality and great performances. You might
need to watch it with subtitles because Carlyle and Thompson's accents
are really strong. Watchable!
Round-Up: Since his big break in Trainspotting and the highly acclaimed Full Monty, Robert Carlyle, 54, has been in and out of the spotlight with movies like Angela's Ashes, The World Is Not Enough, Plunkett & Maclean, There's Only One Jimmy Grimble, the Beach, the 51st State with Samuel L. Jackson, Eragon and 28 Weeks Later. You can tell that he's not really into the whole Hollywood glamour scene, so he seems to keep himself low key, even when he's starring in a Bond movie or big movies like the Beach with DiCaprio. This is the first major release with Carlyle in the directors chair, so I have to rate him for getting the most out of a top cast. The stupidity of Barney actions is questionable throughout the film but it's still a decent watch.
I recommend this movie to people who are into their crime/comedies starring Robert Carlyle, Emma Thompson, Ray Winstone and Tom Courtenay. 5/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What starts off like it's going to head into Guy Ritchie mk1 territory, this veers sharply into the often difficult waters of black comedy. But oh it's damn good. Emma Thompson steals the show; having seen her in no less that 20 films over the years, there is no doubt that she is in her element here as a the protagonist's part mum/part xxxxxx. Both Carlyle and the ever angry 'ard Winstone also deliver powerful and hilarious performances. I have a sneaking suspicion that in a few years' time, this film will be regarded as a British cult classic. Why? With a storyline like this, there are usually dozens of cringe worthy lines that a whole host of actors fail to deliver with conviction; not here-- the tightness of the script reminds me of films like The Business, Withnail & I, Trainspotting and even Extras; the comparison with the latter two being (intentional?) inevitable. The casting of Ashley Jenson playing decidedly off character is another masterstroke. With the exception of Birdman, there hasn't been a film I want to almost immediately re-watch on DVD so soon after seeing it in the theatres because I am sure there are buried gems I've probably missed. I've seen a number of mixed reviews of this in the press but I hope it will rise above it because it's definitely one of the best British efforts of the last year.
I very nearly didn't watch this film, though I admire the acting work of Carlyle and Winstone, and the subject matter of accidental serial killer intrigued me...because I was put off when I discovered that Emma Thompson was playing Carlyle's mother, and Thompson being only two years older (born 1959) than Carlyle (born 1961). I thought how bloody stupid, and caused me to instantly lose respect for the producer's / director's casting decisions. It would have been more realistic and have greater integrity to cast someone like Judy Dench (born 1934) as Barney's mum, or Helen Mirren, who easily have had Carlyle at the age of 15. Having said this, I did eventually view the DVD of the film of "The Legend of Barney Thomson", because I have an interest in serial killers, Sweeney Todd, etc since I have written a crime novel "The Ripper Code". I must say I did enjoy the movie though. I liked everyone's performances, even Thompson's...though I still would have preferred a more authentic actress play the role, i.e. someone who was in her seventies. Actually I was pleasantly surprised to see my friend and fellow actor, Dolina Maclennan, in a tiny cameo role, and I sent her a message "If I had been making the movie I would have cast you in the Emma Thompson role. She was good (which she should be, that's what she is paid to be), but inappropriately cast as Carlyle's Mum...in truth she would have been two years old when she had him. Talk about "age-ist" casting! How many great leading movie roles for seventy-plus actresses are there - not many. And when they do come along, it is given to someone who is two years older than the son she is supposed to have given birth to. I found Emma Thompson a terrible distraction in the role, and unable to suspend my disbelief. Apart from you not playing such a gift of a part, I nonetheless thought the film was brilliant with its grotesque comedy."
Looking for a film which isn't sat on a picket fence, or a CGI squeezed bag of eye hurt, then this could amuse you for the 90 minutes. Don't forget to plug the Scottish babel fish in before the film starts. Emma Thompson plays a perfect cemolina...Ray Winstone...plays Ray Winstone. There were some stereotypical 70's remarks linked with the typical regional British profiles....But Was he in The Bill or what?.. Anyway, nice start to Begsbies directors career. And the dark side of comedy was a challenge. Interesting, quirky, with a few guffaws, the speed is in tempo with the story, which sort of becomes 'gifted on a plate'. It's far from the trainspotting of old, and a fresh view on a little corner of madness. Worth a watch even if it is only for Emma Thompson showing why she is a great of the screen.
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