The Legend of Barney Thomson full movie review - A black comedy with gallus Glaswegian attitude.
'The Legend Of Barney Thomson' is the feature film debut of Robert Carlyle as Director. Bobby was born in Maryhill Glasgow and thus was able to give an authentic touch to this Glaswegian crime-comedy. He has also gathered a great cast of fellow actors, many of whom he has worked with previously.
Ever since he exploded onto the screen, in the TV series 'Cracker', Bobby has been an acting legend! Thus it is appropriate, that as well as directing 'TLOBT', he also plays the eponymous legend. However, as the film opens, the 'legend' is really a most unimpressive figure. In fact, he is rather pathetic! He is an ageing single man, with no friends, and no patter. Thus, life is passing him by as he plys his trade as a barber. Even in the work, he is unpopular, thus the wimpish Barney faces an uncertain future. His destiny victim to any twist of fate that may befall him.
This film is essentially a comic version of a cop show. Glasgow was the setting for many years of a TV cop show called 'Taggart'. Bobby's first acting credit was on that show. So it is entertaining then, that the format of Glaswegian cops hunting down murderers, is here played for laughs.
Real-life hard-man Ray Winstone, (well real-life hard-boy, he did box with the famous Repton Boxing Club), has acted with Bobby Carlyle before in the cops-and-robbers crime film 'Face' (1997). Ray has gone on to play some memorable villains such as in 'Ripley's Game' (2002) and 'The Departed' (2006). In 2012 he played the famous Detective Inspector Jack Regan in 'The Sweeney'. Here in 'TLOBT' he essentially plays the same character, though this time for laughs. A cockney marooned in Glasgow, he methodically conducts his sterling Regan- like police-work, all the while offering pleasantries and home-spun philosophy.
Emma Thompson got her first big break in the 1987 TV series 'Tutti Frutti', where she played along side star Robbie Coltrane (who also starred in the 'Cracker' TV series), and Maurice Roeves and Richard Wilson. 'TF' was a comedy set and filmed in Glasgow. Here, in 'TLOBT', Miss Thompson once again returns to Glasgow for a comic role. She plays Barney Thomson's mother and does so authentically. Never before, has she looked more horrible, or acted so well or so convincingly. It would be wrong to say that many of the women in Glasgow are like Barney's mum. However, many Glaswegians will find her character authentically familiar. She looks and sounds the part!
Casting for 'TLOBT' is universally good. There is authenticity here with accents that was sadly lacking in the recent serious Glasgow gangster film 'The Wee Man'. However, the two stars of that film; Martin Compston (a rising star), and Stephen McCole, both gave outstandingly tremendous performances. Here, in 'TLOBT', they both have small roles as two of Barney's fellow barbers. Incidentally, Mr Carlyle and Mr McCole, were both in 'Stone of Destiny' (2008). The great veteran actor James Cosmo also has a small part as another barber.
Other parts are also acted well, however Brian Pettifer, perfectly playing a wee wideo, and Matt Costello in the smallest of parts, were both outstanding, both in gritty realism, and for entertainment value.
This film is a crime-comedy and as such is very entertaining. The Q&A sessions between Bobby's Barney and Ray's cop were extremely funny. Bobby also did some funny physical comedy too. Because this is a crime-comedy it is of course cliché-ridden. In a straight crime drama, there are of course clichés of the genre, too many clichés though may spoil the drama. However, in comedy, the clichés can be used for entertainment and laughs and thus we can never get enough of them. In this film, there are one or two very clichéd scenes. Seeing them coming, means that they can be savoured to their full extent as they play out. However do be warned, although this is a comedy, it is a black comedy about murder. Some of the violence is both bloody and realistic. Hence why the UK certificate is 15.
Robert Carlyle as Director has a good eye for detail. Film appears to be set in about the seventies. Period detail seems good. There are lots of beiges. To give an authenticity to the filming, it seems to have been done with a brown tinge, rather like the recent 'Mr Holmes'. Thus like that film, I found the lighting a spot dark for my liking at times. Filming is good, with a good eye for detail. I particularly liked the scene where Barney is seen moving away as the lights go on. Fine attention to detail there! In playing the wimp- like Barney, Robert Carlyle gets some close-ups of his face. This may be a comedy, but we also see some tortured looks of Barney in a more serious mode, reminiscent of the iconic close-up shots of Bob Hoskins in the 1980 'The Long Good Friday' gangster film.
There were iconic scenes of Glasgow in the location shooting. The metal lifts, all so familiar! The Red Road Flats, The Barrowland Ballroom, Bridgeton Cross! Much of the filming seems to have taken place in the area around Glasgow Cross and the Gallowgate. This is of course highly appropriate as this film is a celebration of the gallus Glaswegian character.
Pure gallus! Pure dead brilliant! 9/10.