David Brent Review: “guffaw-out-loud funny and surprisingly touching”

David Brent ricky Gervais

David Brent ricky Gervais - Credit: Archant

Ricky Gervais brings his infamous David Brent to the big screen in a film that shockingly works

Ricky Gervais is not a loveable figure, and even though I’ve enjoyed a lot of his work I don’t have anything invested in his success.

His whole comic persona is based on being smug and successful beyond merit.

Maybe, just maybe, I’d be happy to see him fall flat on his face.

His great redeeming feature, though, is having created and played one of the all-time great sitcom characters and if he knows anything, he knows how to play David Brent.

And here he’s gone and risked it all by putting his TV comic creation on the big screen, a move that even when it works, never really works. (And after concluding the series so perfectly, too).

This project is made that bit more challenging because he’s doing it without the show’s co-creator Stephen Merchant.

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But if he’d been lurking in the foyer afterwards I think I would’ve gone up to him and given him a hug and awkwardly fist pumped or some such silliness because he’s gone and done it.

It is funny, guffaw-out-loud funny all the way through, and kind of touching.

The film picks up Brent’s story 10-plus years on.

The BBC 2 camera crew are back, to follow him blowing all his savings, pensions and credit cards on one last shot at rock’n’roll stardom.

Like most classic comic creations Brent’s an exaggerated version of its creator and while most performers try to put some distance between the two, Gervais seems content to let the two of them overlap.

The pathos of Brent is therefore inherent; it doesn’t need to be spelled out. But that, spoilers, is what he does at the end of the film, and it works beautifully.

The root of David Brent’s appeal is that stuck inside this comic monster there seems to be a normal semi-decent person who can’t quite bring himself to discard the fame delusion.

He’s so pitiable even the simple action of someone buying him a drink is deeply moving. Just between you and me, and if it ever comes up again I’ll deny it, but I did drop a few tears at the end.

Rating: 4 stars