Brian and Charles is part Frankenstein tale, part love story

Eccentric tale about a loner who builds himself a robot, explores the nature of friendship

Thursday, 7th July — By Dan Carrier

Brian and Charles 1

BRIAN AND CHARLES
Directed by Jim Archer
Certificate: 12a
☆☆☆

IN the hills of rural Wales, Brian lives a lonely life in his isolated farm house.

His shed is full of scrap and junk. We learn he loves a fly tipper, so he can rummage through what has been dumped on the picturesque lanes around his home – and once he has dragged his booty back, he sets about making things.

Brian (David Earl) is the lead in this eccentric tale about a loner who decides to build himself a friend.

Part Frankenstein tale, part love story, Brian and Charles wobbles through telling a story as a documentary – the filmmaker behind the camera is occasionally referred to – but this element is occasionally cast to one side if it doesn’t fit in with the plot. It makes for an uneven yarn, which should not be a problem if the jokes are making you fall off your seat.

Instead, this sweet premise, backed by actors clearly enjoying themselves, stumbles a bit because of the inconsistency in how the narrative is presented.

Brian is well liked by the villagers, particularly Hazel (Louise Brealey) – but he is too shy to admit he yearns for company.

He decides to turn a washing machine into a robot to hang out with – and we embark on a buddy-buddy film that explores the nature of friendship.

But underneath the film’s gentle premise is something that doesn’t quite leave the jolly taste it is aiming for. Brian’s oddball character feels like we are, at times, laughing at and not with him.

And the baddie family who cause Brian problems are straight from Central Casting’s idea of feckless scruffbags who would make a tacky Channel Five documentary-maker salivate at the stereotypes they could pursue.

But maybe this is being too harsh on a film that enjoys its absurdity. At points the comedy is so flimsy it deflates like a week-old souffle. Brian’s inventions are totally rubbish – they look like the sort of thing an under-pressure props department threw together.

They lack the inventive, Heath Robinson wit that could have made this film more of a visual delight.

But because it revels in how rubbish the inventions are, it gives it another layer of absurd humour. Charles the robot is essentially a mannequin’s dummy head stuck on to a cardboard box with actor Chris Hayward hiding within.

It’s so terrible, it’s fun.

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