8 Minutes Idle
Facts and Figures
Run time: 86 mins
In Theaters: Friday 14th February 2014
Budget: $400 thousand
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
IMDB: 5.5 / 10
8 Minutes Idle Review
British filmmaker Martin Simon Hewis uses dark humour and visual trickery to overcome what is clearly a very small budget. So even if the comedy feels low-key and uneven, it continually catches us off-guard with inventive touches that bring out deeper themes. It's also strongly reminiscent of that time of life when youthful carelessness has to give way to grown-up responsibilities. And the characters are hilariously realistic.
Set in a Bristol call centre, the story focuses on Dan (Hughes), a hapless guy who has just been thrown out of his house by his angry mother (Haywood), who's sure he let his drunken dad (Kaye) steal her winning lottery ticket. With nowhere to live, Dan takes his cat and camps out in the office without telling his colleagues, a gang of bored phone operators (including Thomas, Ashton and Ladwa) who liven things up with pranks and after-hours partying. But his life gets even more complicated when his maneating boss (Lombard) tells him to sack Teri (Lovibond), the coworker he has a secret crush on.
In other words, amid all of the workplace antics, Dan needs to grow up and sort out his life. But it's a lot more fun to hang out with his goofy colleagues and let someone else take responsibility. The script nicely captures this time of life without ever getting heavy-handed about it, focussing on the colourful characters and situations as well as the internal fantasies that torment Dan. Hughes plays him as one of those standard British protagonists who can't quite get anything right, and yet we root for him. Lovibond is a feisty foil for him, although their rom-com subplot remains in the film's margins. And the surrounding cast bring all kinds of sparky wit to their roles.
On the other hand, director Hewis never quite cuts loose, keeping the film muted and dark even in the more broadly comical moments. As the story continues, things get increasingly internal and surreal, which draws us in to Dan's personal odyssey and reminds us of that period when our first job turned from thrilling independence to a soul-destroying drudge. And even more resonant is how Dan's isolation shifts as these random people become his make-shift family.