★★☆☆☆The latest offering to emerge from Bristol's iFeatures micro-budget funding scheme, which also saw Polish-born director Katarzyna Klimkiewicz's impressive Flying Blind (2012) secure a UK theatrical release last year, Mark Simon Hewis' debut feature 8 Minutes Idle (2012) (based on a novel of the same name by Matt Thorne) also had the added backing of funds from Kickstarter to help ensure it managed the same distribution pathway. Unfortunately, Hewis' amiable twentysomething drama doesn't quite impress in the the same way as its predecessor, despite an appealingly straight-faced performance from lead actor Tom Hughes and the abstract, sometimes almost Lynchian comedic tone.
Despite the noticeable budgetary limitations, director Hewis manages to conjure up an off-kilter, deadpan feel to Dan's office existence, which is both endearing and slightly disturbing. It's largely up to leads Hughes and Lovibond to really make the material work, and they do an admirable job, despite the script's shortcomings. Lombard is funny too, although there is the nagging suspicion that she's being slightly reined in. TV's The Office captured the daily drudgery, forced comradely and petty power play of that environment in a much superior manner, and the makers must have been more than aware that comparisons would unfortunately made between both. In fact, the stagy small-scale aesthetic brings to mind that of a BBC Three comedy show, which is where 8 Minutes Idle may have thrived. There's personality and a quirkiness inherent in the material. It's just a shame not it doesn't quite cut it as cinematic material.