The British film industry is complex in its decision as to what British film gets green-lit and distributed. There has always been two ways to me, the first is to create a nitty-gritty social realist film that has an underlying political commentary or the much simpler way, to take a much loved British character/icon from a popular TV series (that is only popular in Britain) and give them their own film. This second method whilst it can produce a good film like Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, the majority of the time, it paves way for cash grab movies like The Harry Hill Movie or Mrs. Browns Boys D’Movie.
Now it seems to be the time for one of the most popular characters to grace British television David Brent of The Office to make his cinema debut to follow this cheap method that only exists to play on your nostalgia and take your money. Well actually this isn’t the case at all thankfully because the film whilst it certainly is cashing in on the love that remains for the wannabe cool guy, it’s a cashing in film that has an entertaining value.
It was interesting to see the continuation of this character and the struggles Brent has had and is still going through. Everyone around him and the world he was used to has moved on but Brent hasn’t which creates a sympathetic feeling from the audience (there were a few aww’s at the screening from audience members). The analogy I’d use to describe Brent is that he is like that kid who always used to hang around you at school because he wanted to be within your friend circle but he just made everything so awkward, however when he’s gone you can’t help but feel sad that he’s not there anymore. That’s exactly how Brent behaves, he is a weight on everyone else’s shoulders that they can’t shrug off.
What nails it for the characters is the changes that every individual goes through in their opinion of Brent. The band members of Brent’s band Foregone Conclusion have perfect chemistry together in the film and when Brent enters the room the cringe begins. When I say when Brent enters the room I mean the exact nanosecond he enters. It quite stunning how the film can change the tone of a scene in the blink of an eye and also just by Ricky Gervais being present in the scene.
The beginning and conclusion of the film are some of its highlights, but in in the middle and where Brent and Foregone Conclusion are touring is where it seems to drag on with gig after gig and scenes involving character development thrown in the middle. Whist the gigs are the main source of the films awkward comedy, they grow tiresome in a rinse and repeat formula, there are only one or two occasions where something interesting and comical happens during the concerts but for a film that relies on awkward comical situations in order for it to progress it’s not enough.
A big part of The Office was its faux-documentary style of cinematography, the same is done here so If you’re not familiar with The Office the chances are that you’ll find yourself confused by how the scenes are shot. I couldn’t help but sit there thinking that this is all too familiar. The Office practically invented its own style of cinematography, but because that style has been used by so many other TV shows it doesn’t feel special like it did in The Office because of the familiarity. But there are little sparks in the film that were impressive such as the editor’s choice to stay with the awkwardness of the scene which uplifts Brent’s character.
Overall, While the film Ricky Gervais has gifted to us is a decent character driven journey, it won’t be too long before you forget the film even exists at all, which sounds harsh but once you see it you’ll begin to understand as the gigs in the film seem to be used as filler. What raises the film and is certainly its strongest element is the complexity of the additional characters and how they all view Brent.
Final Result: 6/10 – Above Average
Have you seen David Brent: Life on the Road? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments.
Next time: The Purge: Election Year