A reasonably solid first attempt behind the camera (notwithstanding an episode of Stargate) for Robert Carlyle, but sadly one let down by a common fault within the black comedy genre – over reliance on a concept to be continually be amusing in its own right; much like filming squirrels going rogue and deciding to collect human nuts for the winter could be quite funny, but it may also become incredibly tedious watching the little critters continuously emasculate runners in the park (actually, I think this concept would work no matter how it was done). Here, Carlyle plays nondescript local Glasgow barber Barney Thomson (he only knows two different styles of cut, although this is already one more than most of the barbers in Scotland) who accrues a habit of accidentally killing people who would otherwise have been in a position to cause him significant hardship. Alas, he spends most of the film whining and stressing about it and we simply don’t care – it’s not a terribly amusing concept to begin with, better if he laughed manically every time it happened and then started to create scenarios that induced a high likelihood someone he doesn’t like might ‘accidentally’ bite it.
The film is based on the novel ‘The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson’ by Douglas Lindsay and there are a number of nice comedy moments but unfortunately the majority were spoiled for us by the trailer, and whilst Emma Thompson as Barny’s mum and both Ray Winstone and Ashley Jensen as the cops investigating the murders all give really strong performances, everything just becomes increasingly humdrum as the film progresses, the story continually bogged down by the protagonist’s lugubrious outlook and demeanour turning everything as stale and depressing as indeed the choice of cinematography, with its hazzy late-fifties vibe, had always been suggesting we could expect throughout. With Tom Courtenay, James Cosmo and Martin Compston in support.