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“Life isn’t about endings. It’s a series of moments.” These words were said by Tim, Martin Freeman’s character on what we must now call The UK Office. This the mantra of The Office when it works at its best. And since life has no endings, (except for the final one) it might seem quite fitting for the story of the former boss of Wernam Hogg to continue.
David Brent – Life on the Road is another mockumentary following the titular near mythic creation of Ricky Gervais. This time it is 2016 and Brent is trying to go on tour as a musician with his band “Forgone Conclusion”.
I am a huge fan of The UK Office. It is a landmark TV show in several ways. Not only did it revamp the mockumentary and sitcom simultaneously, but Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant wrote a TV show that was funny, poignant, cringey and commented on aspects of the human condition and the modern world we hadn’t really seen before.
Note, I’ve not seen much of the US office or any of the other Britons you can find around the world. From what I’ve seen of the US one, it’s fine. I’ve no intention of watching every episode of that show any time soon. Nine seasons is a better commitment. I feel like I can recommend the UK office to anyone though. But some don’t like the level of cringe we get to in the Brit version, it does at least cut the chase on the various storylines in its two series and double Christmas special (which I’d say is the best Christmas special ever made).
A big part of what made the show a work of genius was the character David Brent. He was the boss of the small team in Slough working for paper merchants Wernam Hogg. He is a man with a pathological desire to be liked. In his attempts to be Mr popular he tries to be funny and fails he tries dancing and fails even makes friends with some of the most revolting people I’ve seen portrayed on TV and somehow succeeds there.
Regardless of what you might think of record surveys, is acting in this role is simply Oscar worthy. He shows of all the pathetic nature of such a man and is able to shake as the core when we see moments of honesty as Brent a side of cool and funny fall apart and it becomes a human being. The scene where he begs not to be made redundant still makes me cry.
Fast forward over a decade later and David is a salesman at another company. He still trying to be a life of the party and is still after the dream of being a rockstar.
Within a few moments, I was already laughing. This is an excellent comedy.
Watching Brent drive his band, made up of session musicians and a wrapper played brilliantly by comedian Doc Brown is a pleasure of cringe.
Rent obsession with getting accepted has made him write utterly terrible songs that he over explains every time to avoid people getting offended. These include such classics as “Equality Street”, “Native American” and “Slough” which should all get into the charts.
And yet what marks out this film is its exploration into Brent’s mind. Now that he is the undisputed front and centre of the runtime, one would think that without characters like Tim and Dawn we would easily fatigue of David. Which of these does with this extended time with this character whom, if you knew him in reality you might want to smack, is given release ability without pulling the jokes.
We are all David Brent sometimes. I know I am.
Recommended Scenario: If you’re a fan of The UK Office. Otherwise go watch that show, become a fan and watch this.