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DVD Review

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Starring: Julian Barratt, Essie Davis, Kenneth Branagh, Andrea Riseborough and Steve Coogan
Distributor: StudioCanal
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 04 September 2017

At the height of his acting popularity, actor Richard Thorncroft, famous for playing Mindhorn, severely insults The Isle of Man - the very place his fictional detective series is set, a series part funded by the island. With the show shut down Richard's career sank overnight, reducing him to having to make commercials for embarrassing products. Decades have passed and Mindhorn seems to have been forgotten, when Richard receives a request for him to reprise his iconic role and talk to a fugitive killer who thinks that the character of Mindhorn is real...

Mindhorn (2017. 1 hr 24 min 17 sec) is a comedy, directed by Sean Foley, from a Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby script.

The pompous arse that is Thorncroft owes more than a little to Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge. Both have seen their glory days and rather than being humble at their changed circumstances have turned into obnoxious nobs. Throncroft still bangs on about his cancelled TV show even though many, if not most, people barely remember it. There is a nice little cameo from Simon Callow struggling to recall anything he has seen Thorncroft in.

The chance to travel back to the Isle of Man to talk to a potential killer brings out the worst in Thorncroft who sees it as an opportunity to revive his career. On the island we are gradually introduced to some of the more notable characters from his past. Steve Coogan plays Peter Eastman, one time sidekick and now far more successful with his own show.

Essie Davis plays Patricia Deville, his love interest in the show and the woman he was in a relationship before abandoning her. He finds her now living with Clive Parnevik (Simon Farnaby) who does a wonderful turn, semi-nude with a variety of garden implements as Throncroft’s old stuntman and the winner of Patricia’s hand. There is also a subplot regarding the parentage of her daughter.

Thorcroft’s simple job of talking to Paul Melly / The Kestral (Russell Tovey) is further complicated by his endless demonstration of his own ego. Melly is on the run for a murder he didn’t commit and when Thorncroft discovers a video tape of the actual murder he makes the idiotic decision to help clear Melly’s name, queue the antics, including a couple of cameos by Kenneth Branagh.

Overall, I’m not convinced that the film worked well and this was because it really was two types of films stuck together. The first half is heavy with the comedy of embarrassment. There is nothing the British enjoy more than watching some other poor sap squirming on the line, especially if their own bravado has placed them in that position. It is what made David Brent and Alan Partridge such great characters. This part I didn’t think worked as well as it should. However, when we move into the second half of the film, whose comedy relies on a more absurdist take, then the chuckle quotient increased.

The DVD disc comes with a plethora of audio options. The main feature has both a DD 2.0 stereo and a DD 5.1 mix. On top of that is a full-length commentary with Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby as well as a descriptive track and English subtitles.

The extras include, Mindhorn Featurette (5 min, 44 sec) with an interview with the show’s writers, Film Shout Outs (1 min, 38 sec) with fake ads for the show, Thieves in the Cinema Ad (46 sec) an infomercial, The Mind of Mindhorn (1 min, 24 sec) an interview with Thorncroft, Richard Thorncroft Interview (1 min, 08 sec) another interview in character, Clive Parnevik Stunt Masterclass (1 min, 43 sec), essentially they are all adverts for the film and finally the Music Video: ‘You Can’t Handcuff The Wind’ by Richard Thorncroft.


Charles Packer

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