When I read the description and saw the trailer, this film looked like it would be interesting and fun. While I’m not as familiar with the cast, the concept of a man building a robot seemed to have infinite possibilities. When I screened the film, I found it had beautiful interactions, a wonderful robot creation that steals your heart, and a quirky and fun plot about making connections and opening your heart to friendship.
Brian and Charles is a British comedy film directed by Jim Archer in his feature debut with the screenplay written by David Earl and Chris Hayward. The film is a feature-length adaptation of the trio’s 2017 short film of the same name. In the film, Brian (David Earl) is a lonely inventor in Wales who builds quirky contraptions that seldom work. Despite failures, Brian remains optimistic and attempts his most sophisticated invention to date. Using a washing machine and spare parts, he creates Charles (Chris Hayward), an artificially intelligent robot who learns English from a dictionary and is obsessed with cabbages. Brian connects and builds an almost parent-like relationship with Charles, but as Charles grows more independent, Brian must find a way to connect with others, stand up for himself, and give Charles room to find his own path.
One of the first aspects that appealed to me was the characters of Brian and Charles. With his boundless determination and optimism, Brian is hard not to like, while Charles, who has more spirit and presence than any human character, is cheeky, playful, and energetic. The quirky and upbeat attitude of the characters is utterly charming, and I fell in love with them both. In addition, all of the characters in Brian and Charles are interesting and full of life, even those with more negative traits. The setting is a small town and is part of Brian’s changes and Charles’ growth.
The story is simple and uncomplicated. There is conflict in their friendship as Brian learns from Charles and vice-versa. It is very much about the relationship between the pair. While simple, the friendship is well developed, and we get lots between the pair. Some of the other relationships are not developed as much, given that they are secondary characters, but Brian does connect with Hazel (Louise Brealey), who he begins dating. We don’t get to learn much about Hazel, but the friendship is sweet and just beginning. The story primarily revolves around Brian and Charles, which is more than sufficient.
The special effects are well done. Charles is built out of spare parts, and much like the rest of Brian’s inventions, he’s unusual looking. What works is how much expression the robot can make with a single expression or word. His charm is unexpected because much of it shows in tiny facial tics or the way he uses a word. The other inventions also look homemade, with some of them working in dubious ways. The build on Brian’s work area is intriguing, if messy. And even though most of the inventions don’t work, a couple of them surprise us at the film’s end.
It is the acting that makes this film. It is tightly character-driven, and the actors know how to play those characters. David Earl is charming as Brian, quirky, and fun. At the same time, Chris Hayward gives such a brilliant performance, showing unexpected levels of Charles, like teen angst and the character’s drive toward independence. Both are incredibly skilled. As Hazel, Louise Brealey is warm and sweet and is encouraging to Brian. The townspeople also are interesting and add to the performances.
What might cause some issues is that the film is slower. It is not about a fast-paced plot, but it is all about friendships. You will likely enjoy the movie if you focus on the characters. Still, while Brian and Charles are well developed, I would have liked to have learned more about Hazel, and they could have spent more time on a secondary character, Eddie, who bullies Brian. There isn’t much explanation for his behavior other than power, and none of the secondary characters are enough to hold a scene independently. I also wouldn’t have minded more complexity to the plot, but I appreciated the concept’s simplicity. Thankfully, Brian and Charles are so fun, you can focus on them, and their performances are what drive the story.
If you like quirky and unusual films driven by the characters and their quest for understanding and connection, this film is worth watching. It is unusual and strange, but it is lighthearted and fun. The relationship between Brian and Charles is complex and all about friendship. I would have loved more development of some of the other characters, but overall, Brian and Charles are so charming that they’re impossible to resist.
Rating: 4 out of 5 cabbages.
Official Website: Brian & Charles | Official Website | June 17 2022
Brian and Charles
BRIAN AND CHARLES follows Brian, a lonely inventor in rural Wales, who spends his days building quirky, unconventional contraptions that seldom work. Undeterred by his lack of success, Brian attempts his biggest project yet. Three days, a washing machine, and various spare parts later, he’s invented Charles, an artificially intelligent robot who learns English from a dictionary and has an obsession with cabbages. What follows is a humorous and entirely heartwarming story about loneliness, friendship, family, finding love, and letting go. BRIAN AND CHARLES opens in theaters on Friday, June 17, 2022.
ONE-LINER: After a particularly harsh winter Brian goes into a deep depression and builds a robot.