Plenty of films shoot on the Isle of Man, but Julian Barratt’s new comedy Mindhorn is one of the few to set itself in this particularly quaint corner of the UK. With a rural murder-conspiracy investigated by Manx local police and aided by washed-up actor Richard Thorncroft (Barratt), Mindhorn feels like Hot Fuzz by way of The Mighty Boosh, with more than a hint of Alan Partridge, and is very nearly as good as that sounds.
Thorncroft was a superstar in the ’80s thanks to his title role in fictional cop show Mindhorn, about a detective with a bionic eye that could literally see the truth. Washed up thanks to an ill-fated move stateside, the closest he gets to an acting role in the present day is a magnificently uncomfortable audition as a schizophrenic Jamaican man. So when a deranged fan (Russell Tovey) commits a murder and demands to speak with Detective Mindhorn, Thorncroft jumps at the chance to return to the limelight.
Combining deluded arrogance with tragic, self-aware dejection, Barratt plays Thorncroft to hilarious perfection, and every member of his supporting cast, from Essie Davis as old flame Pat Deville to Simon Callow in a delightful cameo as himself, gets a chance to shine. Barratt’s script, co-written with Simon Farnaby, weaves its silly comedy and complex plot with deft skill. There are some truly inspired set pieces, such as a chase for which Thorncroft is glued into a muscle suit, and a shockingly and uproariously brutal undercutting of a poignant death.
An absolute must-watch for Mighty Boosh fans, Mindhorn’s ludicrous sense of humour, often trivial treatment of its own story, and throwback visuals might prove offputtingly weird for some, but for anyone willing to go with its flow, it’s the funniest film of 2017 so far. Strap in, it’s truth time.
CAST: Julian Barratt, Essie Davis, Simon Farnaby, Andrea Riseborough, Russell Tovey, Steve Coogan
DIRECTOR: Sean Foley
WRITERS: Julian Barratt, Simon Farnaby
SYNOPSIS: A has-been actor best known for playing the title character in the 1980s detective series Mindhorn must work with the police when a serial killer says that he will only speak with Detective Mindhorn, whom he believes to be a real person.