I have this deep and hard to explain affection for these small quirky indie comedies that are both light-hearted and melancholy. Last year it was “The Man in the Hat”, a wonderfully moving and whimsical road-trip movie starring Ciarán Hinds that deserved a much bigger audience. This year “Brian and Charles” most certainly scratches that itch. Its story about a lonely inventor who builds a seven-foot-tall cabbage-loving robot is every bit as wacky as it sounds. It’s also endlessly charming and as big-hearted as anything else you’ll see this year.
First time director Jim Archer employs a genuinely funny mockumentary style to introduce us to Brian (David Earl), a down-on-his-luck handyman living alone in rural Wales. He spends most of his time doing small jobs in a nearby village and playing darts with himself at home. To help ease his sense of loneliness and boredom, Brian began inventing things – odd creations such as a pine cone bag, an egg belt, and my personal favorite, a flying cuckoo clock.
In town, Brian shares small talk with a sympathetic general store owner named June (Cara Chase) and struggles to get a word out to a young woman named Hazel (Louise Brealey) who he clearly has eyes for. Meanwhile his timidity makes him fodder for the village bully, Eddie (Jamie Michie) and his roughneck daughters (Lowri and Mari Izzard). Then it’s back home where he sits alone with his inventions.
One day he spots some junk on the side of the road. In it he finds a mannequin heads which inspires him to build something new – a robot. It takes him 72 hours piecing together whatever parts he has around his house. And with a few clicks of a switch, Charles is “born”. With his mannequin head and washing machine torso, the awkwardly tall Charles (wonderfully voiced by Chris Hayward) is a hilariously unusual sight.
Co-written by the the films stars Earl and Hayward, “Brian and Charles” starts off hysterically exploring a budding friendship. Early on, Brian is more like a father as Charles’ personality goes from playful child to a rebellious teen. But as Charles quickly “matures” the two become chums. In addition to their funny exchanges, there are numerous touches that amp up the humor. Like the hilariously on-the-nose “Happy Together” by The Turtles as the two buddies play in the yard.
While Charles offers Brian the companionship he has so desperately longed for, he also opens Brian up to realities in his life – chances that are worth taking, antagonism that’s worth standing up against. And the second half really showcases the film’s humanity as it explores a bevy of themes that include isolation, loneliness, and longing.
Simply put, “Brian and Charles” is an absolute delight. It’s one of the funniest movies of the year and easily one of the most endearing. Its ending may seem a touch too tidy, but it’s such a fitting and warm-hearted finish that hits you right in the feels. And be sure to stay through the end credits. I missed it the first time watching but caught it during my second viewing. You’ll love it. “Brian and Charles” opens in select theaters on June 17th.
Hmmm, not sure about this. David Earl I’ve seen in a few things, and he’s always cringey.
I wasn’t familiar with him. I gotta say, he’s pretty hilarious in this one.
I checked the trailer and it looks better than I thought. Also saw the short film Earl did originally and this one is based on, it is quite funny!
Oh yes! I read where it was based off a short film.
Looks like my kind of movie. I’ve seen David Earl in Ricky Gervais’ series Derek and After Life and he is very funny in those. Can’t imagine how funny this is going to be.
I loved it so much. It has an absurd exterior but a really tender inside.
I’ve heard about this film. I thought it looks sweet and funny. I’d like to see this.
You describe it perfectly!