Written by Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby of The Mighty Boosh, Mindhorn arrives as a flawed but nonetheless amusing film. It begins and ends with a charismatic but frustrating hero attempting to save the day – an entertaining but by no means revelatory cinematic experience.
Barratt is Richard Thorncroft, who plays an actor in a television show called Mindhorn. This idea of an actor playing some kind of well-recognised actor on TV or in a film is a common motif and one that lends itself to a great deal of dramatic irony. There is a reasonable degree of novelty, nonetheless, insofar as Richard Thorncroft is deeply aware of this trope. At one point, for example, he somewhat incongruously quotes Shakespeare: “All the world’s a stage”.
In the Isle of Man, Thorncroft attempts to relive his glory days as the famous investigator. He goes to pretty extreme and dramatic lengths to boost his profile, finding that his fame has waned. Soon, an opportunity arises: The Kestrel (Russell Tovey), a suspected murderer, professes his desire to meet Mindhorn and the police understand that the fictional detective is their best bet of luring Kestrel into custody. And so as the movie progresses we watch three grown men, namely Thorncroft, Clive Parnevik (Simon Farnaby) and The Kestrel – all played comically and brilliantly – be utterly pathetic, clueless and self-obsessed.
It is difficult to know which demographic Mindhorn might appeal to best. The film is informed by Barratt’s childhood TV favourites, which included James Garner’s The Rockford Files and other crime busters, so it’s tempting to suggest that it is largely those fond of the familiar, traditional, self-deprecating types of comedies who will most appreciate this. On the other hand, Mindhorn‘s emphasis on modern definitions of love, and the difficulties surrounding it, are surprisingly relevant, even refreshing. This comes in to play with scenes of genuine emotion between the protagonist and his love interest Patricia Deville (Essie Davis).
The movie is largely superficial, but there is an underlying intelligence. Funny but not laugh-out-loud, self-aware but never groundbreaking, watchable but not very moving, Mindhorn is a film for those seeking frivolity and a sense of release.
Mindhorn is released nationwide on 5th May 2017.
Watch the trailer for Mindhorn here: