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10 Things I Think About The Barney Thomson Movie

19 June 2015

We come to it at last, the great barbershop movie of our times. I wrote the book twenty years ago. At the time, not yet in possession of a PC, the book was written out by hand, on parchment, in the blood of my enemies.

Now it’s a movie. Here are some entirely random thoughts.

10. What’s it like watching your character turned into film, when you’ve had no creative input whatsoever? Bit of a mind fuck. But very enjoyable.

9. The timelessness of the movie is perfect. The book was based on barbershops I’d been to all my life, from the late 60s onwards. I don’t know how many shops there are like that anymore, but the all-male barbershop seems much rarer. Forty years ago, if you got your hair cut in Glasgow by a woman, it was your mum. Nowadays, not so much.

8. The film was closer to the book than I expected. The major differences come with Cemolina, but then, in the book she has about three scenes and most of the time she’s watching TV. You can’t get Emma Thompson in, then say, ‘there you go, luv, watch tele and we’ll film it.’

7. Robert Carlyle is bang on as Barney. Everyone will recognise the type, or at least part of him. The character is every bad barber, every bad haircut and every uncomfortable barbershop scene that you’ve witnessed, stitched together. He’s a Frankenbarber.

6. The denouement in the woods is beautifully staged. Was worried when I found out they hadn’t shot it by the loch in the pouring rain, but thought they nailed it.

5. I have this brilliant idea. No really. Should they film any more books in the series, they should use the actors from this film as a kind of repertory cast, bringing them back in different roles.

4. Interesting that the reviews in the English papers were generally very positive, while the Herald and the Scotsman both slagged it off. The fools.

3. Looking forward to the Director’s Cut edition DVD. The film’s the same, but Barney’s hair is shorter.

2. The movie wouldn’t have happened without the input of a lot of people, but it all started with Rich Cowan, who read the book, bought the option, and wrote the first draft of the screenplay. We definitely wouldn’t have been there on Wednesday night without him. Rich, thank you.

1. Loved the movie. Loved the style. Loved getting to meet the brilliant cast. That’s all.

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