Dir: Sean Foley | Cast: Julian Barratt, Steve Coogan, Russell Tovey, Andrea Riseborough, Simon Callow, Harriet Walter, Kenneth Branagh, Simon Farnaby, David Schofield | UK | Comedy | 89min
If you liked Alan Partridge or Alpha Papa then MINDHORN will appeal. Washing over you like a cloud of laughing gas there are scenes are so hilarious it’s impossible to remain dignified, others so cringingly embarrassing you will never wear lycra again – let alone tight jeans. Some of it’s self-indulgent and some of it’s just mind-boggling grotesque, but there’s a poignancy too that touches on emotional frailty and the pangs of regret that often surface as we stare back at photos of the past.
MINDHORN is the first feature of TV veteran Sean Foley who has a keen sense of comedy, assembling a accomplished cast of Andrea Riseborough, Kenneth Branagh, Steve Coogan and Simon Callow in his big screen debut. Some of the humour has echoes of TV hits such as John Morton’s Twenty Twelve. It will certainly put you off organising that trip to the Isle of Man – if you were toying with the idea. Seemingly stuck in the Seventies, the island is portrayed as a misty, rain-soaked backwater full of twee tearooms, mildewed caravans, ghastly Civic concrete buildings and mock Georgian manors the English seem unable to escape from. Into this retro retreat steps Julian Barratt as Richard Thorncroft, a pot-bellyed actor who’s lost his touch but not his self-belief (or his skin tight polo-neck and ‘slacks’. He’s joined by his nemesis Simon Farnaby who co-wrote the script and appears as Clive Parnevik, also consigned to scrap heap, a raddled has-been who never really was anything but a stuntman of dodgy origins. A loose narrative gives our comic heroes a vehicle to entertain us with their witty one-liners in the worse possible taste. Barratt’s comic timing in the Police Custody room scene is one of the funniest things you’ll see this year.
Thorncroft is helping the Police with their hunt for a killer called the Kestrel (Russell Tovey) who slips in and out of their grasp. The Kestrel has a mental age of nine and is a keen fan of Mindhorn, believing his to be a real detective. Thorncroft also bumps into his ex love Patricia Deville (Essie Davis) who’s now a ‘serious’ journalist since he walked out on her years before. A man of strong passions and even stronger rivalries he’s also made some enemies, insulting almost everyone on the Isle of Man, including Steve Coogan’s medallion man country club owner Peter Eastman who, from a bit part in ‘Mindhorn’, has spawned a more successful series called Windjammer, and has also been involved with Patricia (now married to Parnevik). Foley’s well-filmed comedy is all extremely silly and outlandishly gross for its sleek running time of 89 minutes. You’ll either be bewildered by the awfulness of it all, or laughing your head off in disbelief. MT
ON GENERAL RELEASE FROM 5 MAY 2017
SCREENING PART OF THE BFI’s LOCO FIOM FESTIVAL 4-7 MAY 2017