Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Ricky’s still as Brent as a nine-bob note

FOLLOWING an absence of 12 years from our screens, I’d almost forgotten that David Brent

FOLLOWING an absence of 12 years from our screens, I’d almost forgotten that David Brent is a complex character with his heart firmly in the right place, writes David White.

The former Wernham Hogg boss, who was firmly centre-stage in the BBC’s hit sitcom The Office, gets his own spin-off film in David Brent: Life on the Road.

Watching the trailers for the film all the hallmarks are here — awkward, even cringeworthy, social situations, self-delusion, self promotion, downright blundering faux pas and, at times, comedy so outrageous you really feel you shouldn’t be laughing.

And this is how the film begins, as we join Brent who is about to jack in his job as a travelling salesman with Lavichem — a cleaning and ladies’ personal hygiene products company — to pursue his lifelong dream of rock stardom on a self-financed UK tour with his band, Foregone Conclusion.

Predictably things don’t go to plan for our hapless protagonist and his travelling band of very unmerry men but, ever the optimist, Brent ploughs on. Up to a point, anyway.

Without giving too much away we soon learn that there’s far more to Brent than meets the eye.

Gervais, who has a gift for weaving touching moments into high comedy, is given more time to explore this than in the average TV episode, with a run time of almost 100 minutes here.

Brent as a man is a deeply flawed character — but he is also someone who essentially just wants to be liked and, like a child, craves the attention of his peers.

In the end my friend and I left the cinema having laughed an awful lot and having at times watched the comedy unfold through our fingers, but nevertheless feeling a little sorry for Slough’s most famous son.

That being said, the film is hugely enjoyable and while some may find the comedic set-pieces a tad repetitive, fans will revel in the return of Brent’s awkward glances to camera, smirking self-satisfaction and unwavering belief in his “talent” and accomplishments.

There are a handful of moments where the pace of the film drops slightly, but like The Office the documentary-style of the film means this is forgivable.

The chemistry, or lack of it, between Brent and his long-suffering bandmates really ties the film together — but worth mentioning is the excellent partnership between the frontman and his rapper Dom, played by the hugely talented Ben Bailey Smith, aka real-life rapper and comedian Doc Brown.

David Brent: Life on the Road is showing at Henley’s Regal Picturehouse.

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