Mindhorn

Year: 2017
Director: Sean Foley
Starring: Julian Barratt, Essie Davis, Kenneth Branagh, Andrea Riseborough, Steve Coogan, Russell Tovey, Simon Farnaby
Written by Tom Sheffield

Through my teenage years I remember repeatedly watching ‘The Mighty Boosh’ after being introduced to it by a friend. It’s ridiculous humour and low-budget sets and costumes often brought me close to tears of laughter. Julian Barratt took this same essence and feel that he brought to The Boosh and produced something just as beautiful. Barratt teams back up with Simon Farnaby to write the screenplay for ‘Mindhorn’, as well as both starring in it and something I didn’t learn until  the studios appeared before the film is the brilliant fact that Ridley Scott was an Executive Producer on the film.

‘Mindhorn’ is a character from a 1980’s detective show which starred actor Richard Thorncroft (Julian Barratt), which was filmed on the Isle of Man. 25 years after the show ended, we see a balding, rotund Thorncroft desperately attempt to find some sort of professional acting work, something that he hasn’t managed to achieve over the last 25 years.  Meanwhile, a killer, who calls himself ‘The Kestrel’,  is on the loose on the Isle of Man and refuses to speak to or comply with the police unless he talks to Mindhorn, who he thinks is a real detective. Hoping this case will thrust him straight back in the limelight, Thorncroft dons his ‘truth seeing’ eye patch and mustard-coloured turtle neck and gets to work trying to make a name for himself again. But there’s more to the case than the police know, and it falls to Mindhorn to see that justice is served!

Going into the film, I sort of had an idea what to expect, due to it being written by and starring both Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby. Their previous work, both together and apart, have been some of my favourites over the years, so to have them both together in one film was always going to be a winner in my book. Their humour shines in this film, with some brilliant one liners, some heart racing action sequences, and a sense of silliness that doesn’t go too far to the point that it would put some people off. Mindhorn finds himself rolling from awkward situation to the next which allows Barratt to get his acting chops around some scenes that are all over the emotions scale, and yet he delivers in every scene.

The film’s supporting cast are absolutely brilliant, and they all bring something a little different to their character. Russell Tovey get’s a special mention from me for his portrayal as Paul Melly AKA ‘The Kestrel’, whose obsession with Mindhorn comes off as insanely creepy, but as we learn more about Melly’s background and motives later in the film, you begin to see a sort of innocence to his obsession. Steve Coogan is also a notable mention for his portrayal as Thorncroft’s Mindhorn co-star who shot to fame following a spin-off and multiple sponsorship deals. Although he doesn’t have all that much screen time, he has just enough to make an impression and give us an insight to his character and his smugness. Ultimately it’s Barratt and Farnaby’s shared scenes that are the most memorable, and not just because Farnaby is half naked the whole time. The pair have a great chemistry and bounce off one another with their similar sense of humour and I would definitely be buying tickets if they decided to pair up again and write/star in a prequel/sequel, which they recently teased in a Q&A.  

‘Mindhorn’ is a fantastic example of a brilliant British comedy that in no way takes itself seriously. Fans of Barratt and Farnaby will find themselves in familiar territory, but it never feels repetitive or too similar to their previous work. With a fantastic supporting cast, the Isle of Man delivering beautiful scenery in the background, and a perfect runtime of 89 minutes, I highly recommend giving ‘Mindhorn’ a watch.

Tom’s rating: 7.5 out of 10
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