8 Minutes Idle (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/02/2014

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 86 mins

Despite the occasional wobble, this is an engagingly offbeat British comedy that succeeds thanks to interesting, sharply written characters, strong performances and a determination to resist the usual clichés.

What's it all about?
Directed by Mark Simon Hewis, 8 Minutes Idle is based on the award-winning novel by Matt Thorne (who co-wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Blincoe) and stars Tom Hughes (Cemetery Junction) as Dan, a 20-something call-centre worker whose angry mother (Pippa Haywood) throws him out of the house for letting his drunken dad (Paul Kaye) steal her winning lottery ticket. With nowhere else to go, he ends up secretly sleeping in his office, hiding his cat in the office roof space and attempting to carry on as normal with his quirky co-workers Teri (Ophelia Lovibond), Adrienne (Antonia Thomas), Ian (Jack Ashton) and Dev (Divian Ladwa).

However, when his man-eating boss Alicia (Montserrat Lombard) orders him to sack Teri or lose his job, Dan is conflicted, largely because he's harbouring a massive crush on Teri. And things only get worse when he realises that Alicia has set her sights on him and is deliberately trying to get Teri out of the picture.

The Good
Tom Hughes does a good job of keeping Dan sympathetic, particularly considering he's rather more directionless and non-committal than the standard comedy protagonist; appropriately, the film is essentially about Dan's life being "on hold", so a large part of the tension in the film revolves around whether he's capable of actually putting himself on the line at any point. By contrast, the supporting cast are a lot more lively and interesting, particularly Lombard (who makes a seductively scary boss), Thomas (very funny as prank-prone Adrienne, who can swing from blackmail to acts of kindness in the same breath) and Lovibond, who's believably quirky without being irritating about it and has a winning delivery with throwaway lines like "That's it, I'm done. There is no solace in golf."

The script is intriguingly offbeat, resisting all the usual box-ticking clichés and pulling off some unexpectedly dark moments into the bargain, as well as striking any number of chords with anyone who's ever had a tedious office job. There are also several nicely detailed touches, such as the animated opening credits, the hand-drawn captions for each day, Dev doing an unprompted dance sequence ("What do you think of this?") or the animated blog Adrienne creates to take the piss out of her co-workers.

The Bad
The main problem is that the script feels a little bit too uneven, as if it has swerved too hard to avoid clichés and sentimentality and ended up in a cul-de-sac; as a result, various plot strands and characters are left with nowhere to go (Thomas is particularly under-used), though the final scene is nicely under-stated.

Worth seeing?
Sharply observed and boasting some surprisingly dark edges, 8 Minutes Idle is an intriguingly offbeat British comedy that's well worth seeking out. Recommended.

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Content updated: 18/12/2017 02:56

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