Review: 'Brian And Charles' the Most Delightful Film of 2022

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday June 17, 2022

'Brian And Charles'
'Brian And Charles'  (Source:Focus Features)

Based on a 2017 short, the British indie "Brian and Charles" is one of the most delightful films of 2022. With the simplest of plots, director Jim Archer and writers/stars David Earl and Chris Hayward have crafted a charming, meandering buddy comedy about life, love, and exploring the world.

Brian (David Earl) is a loner who finds himself in a bit of a funk. Inexplicably followed around by a small film crew (that we never see), Brian first tells us that he is an inventor and shows us around his humble home. All of his inventions seem a bit pointless (an egg belt, a bag with pinecones glued to it), but he has the type of personality where he says, "When one door closes, I open another one." So, invention after fruitless invention, Brian never gives up.

But his loneliness causes him to face his greatest challenge: Building a robot. Using scraps he finds in a junkyard and around his home, he slaps the monstrous thing together in 72 hours, convinced it will work. It doesn't, of course, so he just continues on with his day.

But during an electrical storm, he discovers that the robot (Chris Hayward) has come to life when he finds it trying to steal cabbages from his garden.

Soon enough, he discovers that the robot has read the entire dictionary and has been educating himself. He can also talk! (How? Who knows, but he does.) After some trial and error, Brian names the robot Charles, and the two become fast friends. Charles even helps Brian realize his latent feelings for a local gal named Hazel (Louise Brealey).

But it isn't long before Charles — who acts like a combination puppy and child — wants to go explore the world. "I want to go to Hana-lau-lau," he says, and even crafts his own hulu skirt before heading off on his own to find the island. Brian, of course, has to keep him on a short leash for fear the townspeople discover his secret.

Enter a local named Eddie (Jamie Michie), who immediately causes problems for Brian and puts Charles' existence in danger. It's up to Brian to finally come out of his shell to protect his friend and his reputation.

All of this is, of course, unbelievable, but you can't help but be enchanted by it. Brian and Charles' friendship is adorable, and you find you want not only the best for Brian, but Charles as well. His robotic way of talking, the way he says "Brian" the same way every time, and his awkward mobility all add to his charm.

Archer's choice to have the characters occasionally speak to the camera (à la "Modern Family") is intriguing only because we never really know why the film crew is there in the first place. But it's a great way to get Brian's back story and see his excitement over his various creations. Seeing him come out of his shell is cathartic and, in many ways, inspiring. Earl handles that job like a pro.

Hayward, too — stuffed into a giant, mannequin-like robot costume —is wholly amusing, and the comic timing of his dialogue is pretty genius.

This might be a film that could get overlooked, but it will undeniably win audiences of all types over. I found myself chuckling throughout, and really taken by their story. "Brian and Charles" should go down as one of the most fun on-screen duos in years!

"Brian and Charles" releases in theaters on June 17th.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.