VOD film review: 8 Minutes Idle
James R | On 15, Feb 2014
Director: Mark Simon Hewis
Cast: Tom Hughes, Montserrat Lombard, Ophelia Lovibond
Watch 8 Minutes Idle online: TalkTalk TV / Curzon Home Cinema
When The Internship came out last year, The Onion ran a trailer for the movie, promoting it as the best comedy movie of 2005. 8 Minutes Idle, a movie set in a call centre, strays warily close to that same dated feeling. In fairness to Mark Simon Hewis’ movie, based on Matt Thorne’s novel (written way back in 1999), it has been hanging on the line for a while thanks to its original distributor (Revolver) going bust. Now, though, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, the movie has finally been released in cinemas and on-demand.
The British indie flick, made through Creative England’s low budget initiative iFeatures, follows Dan (Hughes), a 20-something stuck in a call centre. Kicked out by his mum, he ends up living in the office, answering customer questions by day and hiding his cat in the ceiling crawl-space by night.
It’s a set-up with some decent (if familiar) potential and Tom Hughes is believably awkward as the loner without a bed, let alone a future. It’s a shame, then, that the office-based larks don’t always close the deal. You sense that’s partly because the film tries so hard to contrast with its drab setting, almost as though it wants to stand out from Ricky Gervais’ BBC series, which this occasionally recalls. With only 90 minutes to develop its characters, the string of kooky supporting roles – the girly singleton, the evil mother, the clueless dad – don’t always feel like real people, closer to bland office drones than may be intentional.
Thankfully, though, the central cast don’t phone in their performances. Ophelia Lovibond works hard to make something of the manic pixie dream girl stereotype – scenes involving her drunken medic colleagues bring several surprising chuckles – while Montserrat Lombard (Ashes to Ashes) steals the show as Dan’s disturbing, dominating boss, whom he fancies and is scared of at the same time. Together with Tom Hughes’ likeable lead, their chemistry keeps you entertained enough to stay on hold, despite the script’s occasionally idle pace.
The result is a broadly anonymous piece, which makes for an oddly fitting depiction of the limbo that is call centre work – if you’ve ever worked in such an environment, the film’s downbeat mundanity will ring true. Given 8 Minutes Idle’s bad fortune with its former distributor, it’s a film that could never have seen the light of day at all. That a small British comedy can, thanks to the support of the public, get a nationwide release through video on-demand is therefore something to celebrate. After all, despite its flaws, this is still far better than The Internship.