Brian and Charles (2022) - 8/10
We all struggle sometimes don’t we. People are more willing to admit that these days, which is a good thing. Keeping busy is a good trick. Brian (David Earl) keeps busy. He’s lonely, but he’s positive. He’s also very inventive. We’re introduced to him as he gives us a guided tour of his unusual rural dwelling. A small country pile in a small Welsh village. This isn’t a documentary though, it’s just an interesting style quirk. In a wonderfully quirky film. Brian is instantly lovable and his fabricated world of half wired ideas is oddly warm and comforting. Brian hatches on the idea to build a robot after finding a mannequins head dumped by fly tippers. Attaching it to a washing machine beneath a natty bow tie and cardigan combo, after some false starts, Charles (Chris Hayward) is born on a stormy night and Brian has a new companion. It’s wonderfully crazy, charming and full of the sort of warmth missing in many comedies. Charles is feisty, scared, curious and a fast learner. Brian is loving and thoughtful. When Charles tells Brian he’s his friend, I melt. Earl is utterly convincing as the shy Brian, his interactions with the boxy ridiculous 7ft Charles never feel odd (well they do visually), but his reactions to Charles’ robotic questions are always delightful. It’s a buddy comedy, with both learning new things about each other, themselves and the world they’ve yet to discover. Things would all be fine if they stayed this way, but Brian is concerned how the locals will react to Charles and tries to keep him hidden at the house. Charles though wants to explore. And why wouldn’t you. The countryside here looks beautiful with its rolling hills, winding roads with drystone walls, streams and gorgeous lighting. There’s only so long you can dance in the kitchen to The Communards before the outside world comes knocking. Can Brian keep Charles safe? and perhaps more to the point, can Charles save Brian? For the most part it’s heartwarming, but there are heartbreaking moments too and the trouble with British comedy is they can do heartbreaking to devastating effect. Friendship endures though and together with Brian’s love interest Hazel (Louise Brealey), they A-Team their way through one of the most beautifully cinematic films you could hope for. Life can be a struggle, but just start at the beginning and use your imagination.