Brian and Charles is an unusual British comedy now available to watch on Sky. With a quirky, documentary-style setting, the film is a marvellous example of oddball British humour but is sadly lacking in any real laughs.
The film follows Brian (David Earl), a depressed man living on his own in an isolated farm cottage in the rural Welsh countryside. To cope with his depression Brian has turned to creating unique and novel inventions to pass the time and scavenges equipment for these from local fly-tipping sites. After his latest invention, a flying cuckoo clock, sets fire when he tries to fly it, Brian discovers a mannequin head while out scavenging. Lonely and with no one to talk to, Brian decides to use the head and build a robot to keep him company, using a washing machine for a body and dressing him in chinos, a shirt, a cardigan and glasses.
After a number of failures to get his robot up and running, Brian leaves home to do some work in the village. Here he bumps into shy Hazel (Louise Brearley), an awkward conversation ensuing despite the pair obviously liking each other. On returning home, Brian spots a strange light in his workshop and sees someone fleeing into the garden. On chasing down the intruder, he realises it’s his robot and after they both calm down, Brian falls asleep. The next morning he awakes to discover his robot has read the dictionary, can talk and wants a name, which is decided to be Charles (Chris Hayward).
Brian soon bonds with Charles, introducing him to the delights of his farm life where Charles discovers a fondness for cabbages. The pair initially enjoy themselves and the friendship that is formed, however after being confined to the cottage, Charles turns into a petulant teenager and is determined to leave and see more of the world. Finally acquiescing, Brian takes Charles into the village where Charles helps matchmake between Brian and Hazel. However, this visit has dangerous consequences when Brian’s bullying neighbour Eddie (Jamie Michie) catches a glimpse of Charles and wants him for his own.
The plot of Brian and Charles is so bizarre and brilliant that this alone gave me a vague feeling of amusement throughout. It’s just so silly and ridiculous that the whole situation makes for good entertainment, especially alongside quite a few adorable and sweet heartwarming moments. The problem is that despite this overriding feeling of amusement, there’s little in the way of actual laughs. There were a couple of moments early on where I did laugh out loud, but this was about it and I’d really been expecting something a lot funnier, especially from such an oddball British comedy. I also found the storyline to be a bit cliched and frustrating when Brian’s neighbour came into the picture, and I really wished they could’ve gone down a different route.
The film looks good and does well to show off the Welsh countryside, and the cast too are all very engaging – David Earl is definitely one to watch. The show however is completely stolen by Charles, who despite looking incredibly ridiculous for a robot, is so adorable and you can’t help but be taken in by him. His ridiculous looks only add to his charm. I just wish the film as a whole was as charming as Charles himself.
Brian and Charles is full of heart and has a wonderfully wacky plot that had me very amused throughout, it’s just sadly lacking in enough laughs to make it truly memorable. Which is a shame as Charles deserves it!
Where to Watch
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!