Review: 8 Minutes Idle

This review originally appeared in Wessex Chronicle Volume 15, Issue 1 (Spring 2014)

Starring Tom Hughes, Ophelia Lovibond, Montserrat Lombard, Antonia Thomas, Pippa Haywood, Paul Kaye. Directed by Mark Simon Hewis. Rated 15 for strong language and sex.

8 Minutes Idle is one of three films featured in a previous issue of the Chronicle produced on a micro-budget by the Bristol-based iFeatures initiative. It tells the story of a young man (Hughes) who is kicked out of the family home by his psycho mother (Haywood) and forced to live in the call centre where he works. With, as they say, hilarious consequences.

Hughes and Lovibond make nicely offbeat romantic leads, though the film’s Valentine’s Day release seems a touch misjudged, as it is hardly a date movie. Rather, it offers a refreshingly twisted subversion of the romcom genre, with a somewhat cynical view of romance and nary a race to the airport in sight.

For a Bristolian such as myself, location-spotting is going to be a major pleasure in any Bristol-shot movie. Here, the film falls down somewhat, as its low budget (US$500,000) means that it is confined to the call centre for much of its running time. But there are shots of Cabot Circus, Stokes Croft and the Thekla to satisfy the appetite for seeing the city on the big screen.

The cast is a mixture of (presumably) local talent and familiar faces from TV. Lombard in particular tries hard to master a Bristol accent – possibly a little too hard, but one has to give her credit for making the effort. She receives able reinforcement from the largely unknown supporting cast, with Divian Ladwa particularly funny as the socially inept Dev.

In short, despite the limitations of its budget, this is a film Bristolians will want to see, perhaps more than people from the rest of Wessex will. Its skewed worldview makes it likely to be a cult movie, rather than a mainstream hit. But the beauty of ultra-low budget cinema like this is that it can afford to take those sorts of risks, rather than simply pandering to the lowest common denominator.

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