Year:  2022

Director:  Jim Archer

Release:  October 19 – November 16, 2022

Running time: 79 minutes

Worth: $13.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

David Earl, Chris Hayward, Louise Brealey, Nina Sosanya, Chris Hayward

… a sweetly odd little film …

Brian and Charles is the ‘Brian-child’ of David Earl and Chris Hayward, who also play the leads – the former, a shabby loner, the latter, his bodgy android creation. The film is set in the glorious North Wales countryside; have a run at some of these filming location names – Llyn Gwynant, Ysbyty Ifan, Trefriw, Cwm Penmachno, Betws y Coed, Llangernyw. Rough on the tongue, gorgeous on the eye.

Earl plays his Brian Gittens character as a sweeter, less disgusting version of the lonely loser from Ricky Gervais’s After Life and Derek. He’s a single, middle aged depressive, who loves tinkering and inventing (objectively useless) things. The scene of the aftermath of a flying cuckoo clock test run is an early highlight, underlining the ‘mockumentary’ style of the piece.

The ‘useless inventions’ theory is scotched when Brian surprises himself by actually making a robot, albeit a very shonky looking one. As Charles says, “My tummy is a washing machine.”

The central relationship is mostly played like a father-son pairing, sometimes mates, occasionally even owner and pet, and it strikes a balance somewhere between poignant and pitiful.

Hayward brings a sense of naïve dignity to the hidden role of Charles and the two leads clearly get along well. Character growth is illustrated by the rapid acceleration of Charles’ personality, through puberty to a wanderlust that exacerbates a falling out between him and his maker.

The film, lengthening the 2017 short it was derived from, doesn’t take too many risks. Obviously, there’s a need to build a narrative around the double act but there’s nothing groundbreaking here. It’s a pretty straight up and down plot, complete with a geeky love interest, played by Sherlock’s Louise Brealey, and peril in the shape of an aggressively chavvy Welsh family who take a fancy to Charles.

Audience acceptance of this film is almost totally predicated on the level of interest or affection one has for Earl’s Brian character. His awkward mannerisms and almost visual smell can be grating, but if this is surmountable, a sweetly odd little film is there for the taking.