(1987, GB, 105 min) Dir Malcolm Mowbray. Cast Michael Palin, Shirley Stelfox, Michael Elphick.
Simon Dent had always been an accountant, taking the same bus to the same firm for thirty years until the day he was called into the Managing Director’s office. “We’re downsizing, as the Americans call it,” the MD says and with that Simon’s life to that point is changed. On the way home, distracted by his grief, he hits a car that has pulled out in front of him, hitting his head on the steering wheel. Now everything’s different, suddenly losing his job is the best thing that’s happened to him – now he can grab life by the horns and ride it off a cliff no matter what his wife Doris says! Dent is a bit like if you crossed Falling Down with Reggie Perrin, the suppressed rage at the indignities of the modern world subsumed by a more childlike joie de vivre. The most important part of the film is that by the end, no matter what he tries to plug the absence in his life with, he remains unhappy, missing something. “I didn’t just have a job and a routine,” he says, “What I had was dignity.” A forced and pretty twee film but one featuring a fine, heartbreaking performance from Palin.