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The Legend of Barney Thomson

The Legend of Barney Thomson, known in the United States as Barney Thomson, is a 2015 British comedy thriller based on the novel The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson by Douglas Lindsay. It is the directorial debut of Robert Carlyle, who also stars in the film, alongside Emma Thompson, Ray Winstone, Ashley Jensen and Brian Pettifer. It was previewed at the 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival in June 2015 before its release on 24 July 2015.[3]

The Legend of Barney Thomson
The Legend of Barney Thomson.jpg
Directed byRobert Carlyle
Produced byJohn G. Lenic
Kaleena Kiff
Brian Coffey
Holly Brydson
Richard Cowan
Screenplay byColin McLaren
Richard Cowan
Based onThe Long Midnight of Barney Thomson
by Douglas Lindsay
StarringRobert Carlyle
Emma Thompson
Ray Winstone
Ashley Jensen
Brian Pettifer
CinematographyFabian Wagner
Distributed byGravitas Ventures
Release date
  • 17 June 2015 (2015-06-17) (Edinburgh International Film Festival)
  • 24 July 2015 (2015-07-24)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$1,329,376[2]


Set in Glasgow, the film centres around 50-year-old Barney Thomson, who works at Henderson's Barbers in Bridgeton and lives a life of desperate mediocrity. Barney's uninteresting life is turned upside down when he enters the grotesque and comically absurd world of a serial killer after accidentally killing his boss Wullie.



The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports a 61% proportion of positive reviews, based on 33 reviews and a weighted average score of 5.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Legend of Barney Thomson may not quite live up to its grandiose title, but it offers a fine calling card for debuting director Carlyle, and Emma Thompson's performance adds a spark."[4] At the review aggregator Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 59 out of 100, based on 9 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[5]

Writing for The List, Eddie Harrison gave the film 2/5 and commented that the film's "brand of gallows humour feels woefully dated; it’s such a shame that Carlyle’s poor selection of script has rendered his first attempt to direct as dead on arrival." He also criticised the film's ending as being "delivered on the indulgent level of a student film."[6] David Jenkins, writing for Little White Lies, gave the film a negative review, concluding it as "Awful, anachronistic material delivered with a total paucity of charm."[7]


  1. ^ "THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 14 July 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Barney Thomson (2015)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  3. ^ Barraclough, Leo (5 May 2015). "Edinburgh Film Festival to Open with Robert Carlyle's 'The Legend of Barney Thomson'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  4. ^ "The Legend of Barney Thomson (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  5. ^ "The Legend of Barney Thomson Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  6. ^ Harrison, Eddie (17 June 2015). "The Legend of Barney Thomson". The List. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  7. ^ Jenkins, David (23 July 2015). "The Legend of Barney Thomson". Little White Lies. Retrieved 5 October 2017.

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