It's a pleasure to know that Robert Carlyle hasn't disappeared from the world of filmmaking, and has instead been working on a passion project after taking a break from the limelight. Donning the Director's hat, Carlyle saw his film open this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival, bringing a strong sense of Scottish-ness, homegrown talent and a wicked sense of humour. It’s a little bit crass, the comedy is blacker than burnt haggis, but it’s charmingly British and perfect for anyone who doesn't take themselves or cinema seriously.
Title character Barney is an introverted barber who enjoys his routine, coincidentally the same he's had for the last twenty years. His life takes an unexpected turn when he accidentally kills his boss. (It’s an accident… honest?) With a killer already on the loose in the streets of Glasgow, Barney is caught up in a bigger police inquiry driven by cockney copper (Ray Winstone) who is adamant that Barney is up to no good, whatever the evidence suggests.
Based on a novel by Douglas Lindsay, The Legend of Barney Thomson is a darkly comic look at one Glaswegian's life as he battles with what he has done. Turning to his sarcastic, unfeeling mother for help, played by Emma Thompson, a revelation in an inch of makeup, colourful language and strong Scot’s drawl, he starts to plan his future... something he has never had the occasion to do before. It's macabre, but in a feel-good way. Ten year's from now, it's going to be a cult classic - both comedy and horror fans will be kept happy as the story balances between the two on a knife-edge.
It's a laugh-out-loud affair, with star turns from Robert and Emma, and a wonderful supporting cast. You'd be hard pressed to find a better example of Scottish artistry within the film industry at the moment (post-Glazer triumph of Under the Skin), with Glasgow setting up a deliciously perfect backdrop in this delightfully twisted modern fairytale.