Counting on Robert Carlyle’s charisma and skill, The Legend of Barney Thomson is an intriguing crime comedy. This is his directorial debut and after such memorable roles, it’s nice to see him trying out something different. After all, who could forget Begbie from Trainspotting, Colonel Ives from Ravenous, or Graham from Priest. And you can bet your sweet ass that he was great here as well as the rest of the cast. This is a character-driven black comedy with a couple of great and bizarre scenes. The script hits all the right issues with mid-life crises, mommy issues, and gruesome murders. This is not surprising since it’s based on a novel written by Douglas Lindsay.
The Legend Of Barney Thomson has all the ingredients that make a cult movie but something just didn’t click. Phenomenal actors (Emma Thompson, Ray Winstone) – check; good and morbid plot – check; dreary and depressive Glasgow setting – check; Cult status – meh. Feels like the Scottish Barbershop  but with odd pacing and focus problems. Mostly because the issues we’re talking about are so potent and you can see the story unfolding in a million different ways. On the other hand, you can attribute all of this to the atmosphere and just go along with it. Either way, this will be quite a refreshing break from your usual crime comedies.
Barney Thomson is a barber. That’s pretty much it, since he doesn’t have other things going on, he just does his job as best as he can. As one can imagine, Barney is not a very pleasant or sociable guy, he does his thing and doesn’t care about much else. However, one faithful day all that is about to change as an accident throws Barney into a world of chaos, murder, and fear.
Dark or black humor is a must when it comes to this type of movie and Barney Thomson is definitely hilarious. Especially with such an experienced cast making the most of the source material. Too bad most of us know little about Glasgow and Scotland in general because I bet this would make things much more engaging. However, here’s our opportunity to learn a bit about not just the country and city but more importantly about the people. The story is a bit predictable for this movie to achieve cult status, but hey stranger things have happened. I should also warn you that there are some pretty graphic scenes.
The Legend Of Barney Thomson is one of those movies that you will watch and immediately forget. That is, forget until a couple of years later you run into it and realize it is much better than you thought. Character development and attention to detail are two things that will really blow you away. I just love it when a movie revolves around people with ordinary jobs and not some spies or superheroes. This gives them a sense of authenticity and brings the story much closer to your average viewer. Plus, we get to learn just a bit how it is to do that job. If you’re looking for similar movies, check out A Good Woman Is Hard to Find and Bad Day for the Cut. So, are you ready to meet Barney?
Director: Robert Carlyle
Writer: Richard Cowan, Colin McLaren
Cast: Robert Carlyle, Emma Thompson, Ray Winstone, Ashley Jensen, James Cosmo, Tom Courtenay
Fun Facts: Despite playing his mother, Emma Thompson is only 2 years older than Robert Carlyle.