Film Review – Brian and Charles (2022)

films, reviews

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It was the BAFTAs last weekend and there was a lot to take away from the ceremony. For one thing, all of the winners were white which seems ridiculous given the diversity among the nominees. For another, Colin Farrell didn’t win Best Actor for his role in The Banshees of Inisherin. One of the few things that we can say that BAFTA got right was nominating Brian and Charles for Outstanding British Film. It wasn’t exactly going to win because it was up against some stiff competition. However, I was happy to see it getting recognised. Even though I hadn’t actually seen it at that point. It was a film that I had been eyeing up for ages because it just sounded like my kind of thing. A quirky British film about a lonely weirdo. I loved the idea of it. The award ceremony on Sunday gave me the perfect excuse to finally watch it.

It’s not as if we haven’t seen the idea before. There are plenty of films where a lonely man finds companionship thanks to AI. It’s just this is probably the first time the robot in question has the body of a washing machine and wears a cardigan. Whatever else this film does, it captures a distinct and lovely aspect of Britishness. It is brimming with charm and little eccentricities. It’s a quiet and fairly unassuming film but it’s undeniably wonderful to watch. Something that feels very refreshing in the current landscape of cinema.

The film is a mockumentary that follows the life of Brian Gittins. He is an inventor who lives alone in Wales. His inventions very rarely work as they should but Brian is always ready to move on to the next one. When he comes across an old mannequin’s head, Brian realises that there is an easy way to solve his loneliness. He can make himself a friend. After a stormy night, Brian’s robot comes to life. Giving himself the name Charles Petrescu, the robot quickly sets out to learn what he can of the world. However, Brian is too afraid to let Charles outside. Instead, he keeps him hidden away for safety. But how long can Brian keep his artificial pal a secret from the rest of the village?

There are aspects of this story that reference great works of science fiction. Charles’ birth is clearly inspired by Frankenstein but he is nothing like Mary Shelley’s creation. Yes, they have the same childlike innocence and desire to gain knowledge. However, Charles is never any kind of threat to anyone. He enjoys cabbage and having little dance parties in Brian’s kitchen. He asks questions like any ordinary toddler would and has a deadpan voice. Charles is absolutely fantastic and its easy to see why Brian comes to care for him so much.

What is majorly apparent is how homemade Charles is. Brian and Charles never forgets what it is and where it came from. The feature-length film started life as a short film in 2017 that was based on a character created by David Earl. This outing for the character is definitely an absolute delight to watch. It’s consistently funny and a bit strange. It’s undeniably different and wonderfully unusual. This is also a film with a great deal of heart. It’s more than just a silly concept being played for laughs. There are real emotional journeys here and you easily fall for these characters. It’s a film with a lot to say and it’s really worth listening.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s