Director: Sean Foley
Cast: Julian Barratt, Essie Davis, Andrea Riseborough, Russell Tovey, Harriet Walter
Running Time: 89 minutes
Release Date: May 5th
Mindhorn opens with a behind the scenes documentary on the set of the fictional series of the same name, featuring Detective Mindhorn, a detective that has a robotic eye fitted that allows him to ‘see the truth’ and solve crimes. Lovingly poking fun at the silliness of 1980s detective TV shows, and perfectly mimicking their aesthetic, while being just true-to-life enough that it could, in fact, be a real show, this firmly establishes your expectations for the rest of the film: pushing the boundaries of plausibility while being just familiar enough that the viewer doesn’t disengage. Mindhorn is a self-aware film that satirises everything, including itself. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, but director Sean Foley manages it deftly on his debut feature film.
Written by The Mighty Boosh cast members Julian Barrett and Simon Farnaby, Mindhorn follows the attempts of washed-up actor Richard Thorncroft (Julian Barrett) to revive his career by any means possible – even negotiating on behalf of the police on the Isle of Man with a murderer who believes that Detective Mindhorn is real, and insists on speaking only to him.
Julian Barrett portrays the self-absorbed and down on his luck Richard Thorncroft with such charm and humour that you can’t help but root for him. His supporting cast all give strong performances; Russell Tovey is wonderful as Paul Melley, while Essie Davis plays Thorncroft’s former on- and off-screen love interest with skill, and there are some fantastic cameos. Barrett’s performance is the key strength of the film – he is as adept at enacting slapstick humour as he is at providing emotional depth. It is a fantastic lead performance and his turn as Thorncroft is one of the best comedic performances in recent years.
Though funny and engaging, Mindhorn is not flawless: its weak spot is the third act, which is chaotic and feels thinly presented compared to the strong opening of the film. However, this is not enough to detract from the overall joy of the film itself. The running time of 89 minutes prevents it from feeling as though it is dragging. It beautifully showcases the Isle of Man as a location for filming, while capturing the feel of 80s TV perfectly. It balances nostalgia and contemporary humour perfectly, both embodying and satirising the detective genre impeccably. The sequences depicting the TV show ‘Mindhorn’ are fantastic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they developed a TV spin-off concentrating on episodes of the show in the future – in fact, I’m rather hoping for it.
Despite the comparative weakness of the end sequence to the rest of the film, Mindhorn is a fantastic British comedy and there is no doubt it will become a cult classic – it wholly deserves to become one.