Barney (Robert Carlyle, the director) is a hapless barber, devoid of charm and ‘patter’ as his fellow barbering brethren mockingly remind him. Barney’s mediocre, mundane life of plotting for a way up is about to be transformed, following a typically incompetent fit of pique, when he inadvertently stumbles into serial murder, and with it headlong into the trail of a grotesque series of killings gripping Glasgow. As he makes ham-fisted attempts to cover his tracks, he finds himself on the run from the bearish Detective Inspector Holdall and a testosterone-driven local Police task force at each others throats over the ongoing crimes.
Usually movies such as this one work in the following way: you meet a crafty wrongdoer who, after a while, finds his or her nemezis in a form of an equally crafty cop. Then we get a duel between the good and the evil. The Legend of Barney Thomson puts it all upside down. The wrongdoer is rather a clumsy oaf and a loner than an evil genius of crime. He can even be called an accidental serial murderer, if such a thing exists. The detective, trying to catch him, is a frustrated officer, moderately intelligent but very spiteful because he’s just been passed over for promotion and he is not exactly young anymore. How did it work? It was funny but not VERY funny.
The creation of Emma Thompson as Cemolina, the mother of Barney, was a real treat and a spark illuminating the whole film. The rest was bland. Fortunately I am a huge fan of Emma so her presence was enough to keep me interested to almost the very end.
Not the finest example of English (or Scottish) humour but it had its moments. If you are a fan of Emma you’ll watch it sooner or later. If you are not, you might find yourself a tad disappointed. Watch it at home just to remain on the safe side.