Heartbreak and Triumph
Ricky Gervais is a super power. He is a one man dynasty. Gervais is one of the most influential men in Hollywood, but he has never forgotten his roots and where he came from. He is a man who never turned his back on the original fan base that adored him so much, and finally after more than a decade David Brent is back. So will this mockumentary be more Spinal Tapp or Popstar?
The first mistake that you fall into when watching Life On The Road is that you remember ‘The Office‘. This doesn’t sound like it should be a mistake, but it is. The Office was a one-time 14 episode work of perfection and a master class in comedy. Everything about it was exceptional and it launched the careers of almost everyone involved in it. So straight out the gates is Life Of The Road as good as The Office? No, but then again nothing ever could be.
People who are coming off against Life On The Road might have missed the entire point of The Office. David Brent is someone who is totally broken in every way imaginable and that’s what we see in Life On The Road. It feels brutal to watch, not because of the cringe worthy awkwardness but because this is as close to a human publicly disembowelling his own creation as we can get. Gervais is unmerciful in his attack on Brent, but then again wasn’t that always the point of him? Gervais could never give Brent to anyone else because of how deep he would hack into his own character.
Life On The Road is much more a drama than a comedy, there are comical moments yes, but they are only used to further reinforce the brokenness of Brent, as he spirals into depression and desperation. That’s the real success of The Office and Life On The Road. We want Brent to win.
Maybe Gervais’ racist and sexist shtick has worn thin over the years and maybe it does get repetitive but what doesn’t is seeing David Brent trying to succeed, and in the closing moments of the film we get everything we have been waiting to see (minus THAT dance).
The comedy is as cringe worthy as you’d expect it to be, the entire film is more like a long distance run than a movie in that aspect. It dares you to keep watching even through the awkward and toe curling horror of it all. At this point much like the band’s title, timing for Ricky is a Forgone Conclusion, he knows just how long to linger on a single camera shot or facial expression to maximise the effect.
By now I shouldn’t have to say it but Ricky Gervais is faultless as David Brent, he is a character which he has honed and crafted for more than ten years. Surrounding Ricky is a plethora of C list T.V. stars who I’m sure will all benefit from this outing.
David Brent is sort of like The Breakfast Club for the middle aged. It’s not a film of pure success or failure, but it has it’s high and low points. In short, a movie of heartbreak and triumph.