Mockumentary filmmaking and outlandish excessive ideas are a match made in budget-conscious heaven, taking concepts that could be too bizarre or outlandish for producers to danger funding and presenting them in a lo-fi package deal that’s consciously absurd — and due to this fact endearing. This mentality appears to be the driving power for director Jim Archer and co-writers / co-stars David Earl and Chris Hayward with Brian And Charles, a feature-length adaptation of their 2017 quick movie of the identical title. Fortunately, their foolish odd-couple premise develops sufficient traction to fill out a function runtime, although not with out some problem crossing the end line.
Stylistically just like 2014’s What We Do In The Shadows, this supposed human-interest documentary follows the exploits of Brian (David Earl), a Welsh recluse who spends his lonely days tinkering with innovations that by no means fairly manifest into one thing revolutionary. Whether or not he is changing a bicycle right into a flying cuckoo clock that inexplicably catches hearth, or dragging round trawling nets on his footwear within the native marketplace for no discernible goal, Brian’s odd proclivities make him a lovable outcast. To not be dissuaded by his outsized ambitions, he endeavors to construct a robotic to assist him round the home, regardless of struggling to even keep in mind the time period “synthetic intelligence.” Inexplicably, his experiment works, and the unusually self-dubbed Charles Petrescu (Chris Hayward) is born.
Constructed from a pair of unaccountably life like robotic legs, a washer torso draped in an outsized costume shirt and cardigan, and a professorial model head, Charles approaches the world with a childlike fascination. Talking with Microsoft Sam inflection and a vocabulary developed from studying the dictionary, Charles makes quick associates with Brian, who teaches this new companion all of the vital issues in life, like the way to cook dinner cabbages or when to bounce a jig. In a phrase, the connection is cute, punctuated by Earl and Hayward’s expertly timed deadpan supply that makes even a scene as benign as throwing darts into an train of charming character work.
If the writers had been content material to let their characters exist in a sequence of slice-of-life sketches within the vein of an prolonged tv pilot, Earl and Hayward might have simply gotten away with doing so, however their want to be just a little extra bold finally ends up being one thing of a blended bag. Most intriguing is the movie’s notion that Charles isn’t merely an offbeat pal to Brian, however is in actual fact most analogous to a baby, with impartial needs and wishes that Brian is not going to at all times be capable of fulfill throughout the confines of his remoted homestead. When he begins to behave out in opposition to his creator, selecting fights and isolating with angsty metallic music within the strolling washer’s equal of teenage riot, that willful testing of boundaries battles with Brian’s want to guard and maintain Charles to himself.
This feeds an underlying rigidity wherein Brian fears the surface world, personified by a meek relationship with the village bully Eddie (Jamie Michie) and his hesitation to flirt with the clearly Hazel (Louise Brealey). These competing units of values power character development in Brian which is a none-too-subtle metaphor for the transformative impact of parenthood, the place the kid is not any much less a creature of their very own making than they’re the offspring of their creator.
Sadly, someplace alongside the trail to the third act, Brian And Charles loses a few of its appeal in sacrifice to saccharine sentimentality. In a unusually misguided placement of narrative priorities, the pair are cut up up for a lot of the movie’s remaining half-hour, which appears meant to create a way of peril and misery that feels at odds with the beforehand established straight-faced absurdism. In a limitation of the mockumentary framing, the main focus turns completely on Brian’s arc, however with out Charles’ presence, the emphasis is positioned way more on his willingness to mood his reclusive nature than his skill to let Charles face the risks of the world.
The truth is, Charles’ company is robbed so completely that his arc by no means totally recovers, its decision restricted to a candy epilogue that pays lip service to a want to discover the world which previous occasions would absolutely trigger him to query. It is tempting to take a look at this flimsy decision as a casualty of the difference from the quick movie’s proof of idea to a feature-length three-act construction, the place lack of ample growth to the preliminary execution of the premise led to a story that concludes a lot weaker than its preliminary comedic promise.
Whatever the purpose, Brian And Charles nonetheless stays an enthralling movie regardless of itself. Often hilarious and by no means missing in coronary heart, there’s loads to like about this story of an offbeat, cabbage-loving weirdo and his three-meter-tall mechanical son. Even when it is a bit thematically slight and does not fairly stick the touchdown in congealing what themes it does have right into a cohesive complete, typically all that is needed is an offbeat humorousness and a bizarre sufficient premise to make a long-lasting impression.