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Film Reviews The Legend of Barney Thomson: Comedy scores a murderous mistake

Robert Carlyle stars as Barney Thomson, a grumpy barber mired in routine who accidentally stabs his boss with scissors just after the man has fired him.

Graeme Hunter/Graeme Hunter Pictures

3 out of 4 stars

Written by
Richard Cowan, Colin McLaren
Directed by
Robert Carlyle
Starring
Robert Carlyle, Emma Thompson
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English

Who could trust a man who holds a razor to your throat?

Taking a page from Sweeney Todd, The Legend of Barney Thomson sets a macabre comedy in a Glasgow barbershop – and darkly insinuates there are few of us who aren't capable of bloody murder.

Barney Thomson is a grumpy barber mired in routine who accidentally stabs his boss with scissors just after the man has fired him. Luckily, his ebullient mum, Cemolina, a no-nonsense party girl, thinks to chop up the body and tuck it in the freezer.

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But the police are soon sniffing about the barbershop, suspecting that Barney is the body-parts murderer who has been terrorizing Scotland.

Robert Carlyle is excellent as the lugubrious and downtrodden Barney, but as he makes his directorial debut here his rhythm on this deadpan comedy is erratic.

The raging of the incompetent cops becomes repetitious and the action occasionally drags – unless Emma Thompson is onscreen as Cemolina. She's deliciously cast against genteel type as bingo-playing mama with a personality as brassy as her hair, and puts in a performance that is worth the price of admission.

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