New from Kevin Wozniak on Kevflix: Sundance 2022: Brian and Charles

 

 

Jim Archer’s Brian and Charles was the biggest surprise for me at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Originally not on my main list of movies to watch during the festival, I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the film and I could not be happier with my decision. This is a lovely, sweet, hilarious comedy about a man and his robot.

Brian (David Earl) lives alone in a small Welsh village, constantly inventing weird, oddball contraptions, like the flying cuckoo clock, that rarely work. While rummaging through the trash to find items that could be used for his next invention, he finds a mannequin head, which sparks an idea to build a robot. Three days and one washing machine later, Brian creates Charles, an artificially intelligent robot who has learned how to speak by reading the English dictionary and winds up being rather charming. But as Charles learns more about life, he wants to explore the world more, which puts the lonely Brian in a difficult position of possibly losing his only friend.

Based on his own 2017 short film, Archer keeps the plot and story of Brian and Charles very simple and focused. For a movie that runs 90-minutes with credits, the movie nicely builds its characters and setting that we understand and care about everyone in the movie and the entire town. We get to know the small-town Brian resides in. This is a town where everyone knows each other, but one where everyone mostly keeps to themselves. It has one convenient store where everyone does their grocery shopping and one rude family who bullies the townspeople into doing things for them. Everyone lives in small, older homes surrounded by gorgeous landscapes. We understand Brian being the town weirdo because of his failed inventions and his lonely way of living, which hooks us emotionally and keeps us invested in Brian’s growth as a character as he learns to expand his world and allow people in while accepting Charles’s growth. You not only end up loving Brian but are invested in the happenings around the town, which makes for a rewarding climax.

Brian and Charles is also a lovely and beautiful movie about friendship and coming out of your shell. David Earl is magnificent as Brian and his chemistry with the washing machine and mannequin head Charles (played and voiced by Chris Hayward) is nothing short of perfection. This is a movie that looks at growth between two friends. Brian teaches Charles about the world. He teaches him about what is beyond the small Welsh village, the music of the world, and an appreciation of cabbage. And on the other side, Charles helps Brian learn to look beyond his garage and his creations and grow his personality, which helps Brian learn to stand up for himself and be more personable to the people around the town, particularly Hazel (Louise Brealey), a girl Brian begins to have a crush on. But as they both grow, Charles wants to explore the world more, which is tough for Brian to accept because he doesn’t want to lose his only friend. The friendship between Brian and Charles is the heart of the film and a beautiful look at human connection.

Brian and Charles is a heart-warming comedy that we rarely see nowadays. A simple, focused, funny film about friendship and connection between a man and his robot.

 

Brian and Charles premiered in the WORLD DRAMATIC section of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

 

 

 

 

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