What do you get if you mix a lonely inventor, a robot with a mannequin head and a washing machine for a body, and the welsh valley? That’s right, you get Brian and Charles, the feature-length version of a short film of the same name from 2017. Not only is it one of the funniest films in a long time, but it also has a warmingly big heart and a great representation of the power of friendship. The style of it mixed with quirky performances and a heartstring pulling narrative, Brian and Charles might end up being one of the best films of the year.
Written by Alex Gilston
Set in the heart of the welsh valley, Brian and Charles follows mad hat inventor Brian, who lives alone in his house with an adjacent shed where he creates his masterpieces, useless things like an egg belt holder, and a bag with acorns stuck to it. The mockumentary setup makes it easy to delve right into the story, you form an instant connection with Brian and his oddball nature. This is helped along by David Earl’s quietly wonderful performance. Later on, Brian is followed on his latest scavenge for things to help with his inventions, and this is when he comes across a mannequin head, which in turn gives him the idea to invent a robot. A few days later Brian has made a fully functioning AI robot, who learns how to speak by using a dictionary, and is obsessed with cabbages.There is then a silly scene of the both of them deciding what to name him, with the robot cowering at certain suggestions but finally landing on Charles. Charles’ presence is, at the crooks of it, utterly goofy. Him having normal human legs, a washing machine as a body, and a mannequin head sets up for some side-splitting physical comedy. Even just the way he walks about is enough to make you giggle, and his text-to-speech, Siri-esque voice is a joy to listen to, and it gives Charles an endearing quality, so much so that you’ll find yourself falling in love with him very quickly.
Beyond the hilarity of it all, Brian and Charles has major heart. It's heartwarming to see Brian so happy after he has made Charles, and the cheeriness not being alone anymore brings him. But as Charles finds more autonomy and becomes more his own person he wants more, to be able to travel the world. There are great lessons to be had through Brian and Charles’ relationship. The dangers of over protection and smothering the people you love the most. But more than anything it’s a great reminder that friends are there to make you the best version of you. In the end Brian and Charles are the best versions of themselves because of the lessons they’ve taught each other. Charles helped Brian blossom his social skills to make relationships outside of him, and Brian let Charles spread his wings, it’s a satisfying and emotional ending that also leaves you wanting more.
There is a montage in the film set to “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by The Communards in Brian and Charles, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a sequence that is happier than it in a film this year. There is an explicit joy to Brian and Charles that should be admired. Films often follow the trend of the general mood of society, and no more so than since the pandemic started. So when you find a light-hearted gem like this, you must cling onto it as tight as you can and never let go.