Chris Hayward shines as a cyborg in this thin but touching comedy about loneliness and discovery.

Reviews by Joyce Glasser Brian and Karl (July 8, 2022) Cert PG, 91 mins

Brian and Karl is a warm hearted film with a strong message about loneliness, a hot topic following the Covid and lockdown revelations. The feature film by screenwriter and director Jim Archer also boasts a high concept, because the Charles of this buddy film is a robot, albeit less R2D2 than Frankenstein. Set in a Welsh farming village, the film’s thinly drawn supporting characters and implausible plot development reveal the troubles of turning a high-profile short into a feature, including the disappearance of a mockumentary director.

Brian (David Earl) is a hairy, middle-aged inventor who lives alone on a run-down farm in Wales, using the messy house as his home and the barn as his cluttered workshop. Although Brian isn’t a farmer, there are plenty of cabbages that make up a bland running joke in the film as they prove to be useful food and also defensive weapons.

As the film begins, Brian chats to a camera interviewer, believed to be Jim Archer, about his lifestyle and takes us through his workshop (the production design by Hannah Purdy Foggin deserves a special mention). His odd creations range from a bag covered in pine cones to a ridiculous flying machine that apparently crashes during a demonstration whose slapstick humor fails.

The interviewer-director who teaches AI to Brian (who has a TV and can read, so he should know better) is gradually disappearing from the film, it seems. There are a number of scenes where he couldn’t possibly have been present or where the other characters could have commented. It’s for the best, as the cumbersome device distracts rather than adds to the movie.

Unlike most sincere people, Brian loves fly tips. While rummaging through one, he finds a broken washing machine and the head of a handsome male mannequin, which become his robot’s building blocks. Not surprisingly, apart from the expressionless face, protruding glass eye, and hard, square box for his shoulders and back protruding through a shirt, the robot, which looks like a giant man, doesn’t work.

Returning home from a shopping spree in the village during a thunderstorm and thunderstorm, Brian senses something is wrong. He sees sparks, a light is on, hears loud noises, and upon entering the room, he finds the pile of disparate materials he left in a corner of the workshop wandering around the house. The scene is reminiscent of Frankenstein, of course, but Archer doesn’t want to scare us.

Brian is not shocked, but rather delighted at the success of his work, who has taught himself to speak with the dictionary in a very short time. The fact that the robot can talk and has a programmed brain is never explained. Brian claims he worked 72 hours to create Charles, which hardly seems long enough to create a cyborg.

Brian sets about naming his new companion, though he soon learns that his creation will not be named like a baby with no say in the matter. Charles (Chris Hayward) is bossy from the start, they finally agree on that. In fact, the film’s strength lies in the fact that Charles, who initially proves to be a great companion to Brian, who takes part in pillow fights and his penchant for eating cabbage, soon oversteps his reception like a houseguest whose presence becomes an inconvenience.

For a while, the movie is kind of Home alone with a child in an adult’s body while trying to escape the boring village routine to which Brian has become accustomed. Charles is like a child: stubborn, headstrong, demanding and eager to explore the world while remaining vulnerable and inexperienced in it.

Already considered an eccentric by the indulgent, friendly villagers and an object of bullying by the film’s villain, a rancher named Eddie (Jamie Michie), Brian is protective of Charles and tries to hide his friend as long as he can.

But when Charles meets the reclusive Hazel (Louise Brealey), who lives alone with her demanding mother, he becomes a matchmaker and makes the first move the reticent Brian never dared. Hazel and Brian’s romance is sweet and organic, but when evil Eddie and his spoiled wife and daughters meet Charles, we know big trouble awaits.

Chris Hayward is a great counterpart to Earl’s Brian, a well-spoken gentleman whose knowledge exceeds his experience. He sees Hawaiian hula dancers on TV and minutes later trudges through the heath to Hawaii. He loves people, having not learned to fear them, and intuitively invites Hazel for a walk to a lake that Brian rarely visits.

With Brian and Charles, Jim Archer joins other British filmmakers of homegrown, quirky comedy and mockumentaries such as Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and Ben Wheatley (tourists), but without their subversive black comedy in defined genres. The lack of this element means that the film has to be very funny, its characters unique and the plot original to give it any substance. Here Brian and Charles do not always succeed.

Strong as it is, the message about loneliness—Brian doesn’t even realize he’s lonely until he creates Charles—isn’t quite enough for this story to hold its own as a feature. Hazel, a doting and surprisingly skilled companion of Brian’s, isn’t developed as a love interest, while Eddie isn’t stupid enough to commit theft to destroy Charles – rather than profit from him financially.

They also wonder, since Eddie is also stealing from the local store, why the villagers don’t tell the police about this ongoing anti-social behavior. Brian’s brilliant plan to defeat his opponent and come to Charles’s aid might humiliate Eddie enough to make him retire, but like Vladimir Putin, you know that any gains will be temporary and the unbridled tyrant will always retaliate.

Chris Hayward shines as a cyborg in this thin but touching comedy about loneliness and discovery.

Source link Chris Hayward shines as a cyborg in this thin but touching comedy about loneliness and discovery.

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