Barney Thomson (Robert Carlyle), awkward, diffident, Glasgow, Scotland barber, lives a life of desperate mediocrity and his uninteresting life is about to go from 0 to 60 in five seconds, as he enters the grotesque and comically absurd world of the serial killer.
Barney Thomson (Robert Carlyle) is a sad sack of a man. He identifies himself mostly as a barber, Hendersons' Barbers in a working class neighborhood of Glasgow, Scotland, where he's worked for twenty years. More introspective than extroverted, which does not work well for the business, he has fewer and fewer customers, and as such his current boss, Wullie Henderson (Stephen McCole), son of the retired owner James Henderson (James Cosmo), who originally hired him, is moving him further and further away from the spotlight of the shop. Meanwhile, five men so far have been killed by who the general public is nicknaming the "Body Parts Killer," as the murderer sends through the post body parts of the victims to the victims' loved ones. Lead investigator, Detective Inspector Holdall (Ray Winstone), assisted by Detective Inspector Callum MacPherson (Kevin Guthrie), is no closer now to discovering the Body Parts Killer's identity than when the murders started two months ago. Wanting results,...Written by
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.
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