After a particularly harsh winter Brian goes into a deep depression; completely isolated and with no one to talk to, Brian does what any sane person would do when faced with such a melancholic situation. He builds a robot.
‘Brian and Charles’ is a sweet British comedy about a lonely man who spends his days devising kooky inventions with limited practical benefits from his small cottage in rural Wales. He is Brian Gittins, played by David Earl, and for some reason he’s being followed by a documentary crew (this framing device never really makes sense), when a robot that he builds somehow becomes sentient. Naming itself Charles (or Charles Petrescu to be precise), it is made from an old washing machine, an oversized T-shirt and a mannequin head, and it immediately becomes a key part of Brian’s life.
Many viewers will be familiar with David Earl from Ricky Gervais’ ‘After Life’ and he is playing pretty much the same character here, whilst ‘Charles’ is voiced by Chris Hayward. I really enjoyed the odd couple dynamic that develops between Brian and Charles, especially as Charles starts to develop and ‘grow’ into a huffy teenage persona, which leads to much of the comedy as he starts to bicker and clash with Brian. Originally a short, the premise has been expanded into a feature film and that perhaps explains some of the filmmaking choices that maybe don’t work quite as well. That includes the decision to inject a bit of manufactured tension towards the end to up the stakes, which I felt was unnecessary as I was really enjoying the low key and simple interactions that shone a light on the life of a lonely man.
‘Brian and Charles’ is a really enjoyably low key British comedy that finds the right balance of quirkiness in its wacky premise, and it’s a perfect 90 minute watch to end a busy working week.
Directed By: Jim Archer
Starring: David Earl, Chris Hayward, Louise Brealey, Jamie Michie and Nina Sosanya