Coming to theatres this Friday from director Jim Archer and Focus Features is an unusual story of friendship that is all about BRIAN AND CHARLES.
In the grey quiet valley of North Wales lives Brian (David Earl), an unusual gentleman living alone spending his days tinkering. Inventing a little of this and a little of that, he never really gets down when an idea does not exactly succeed. Embracing life with a good sense of humor, Brian lives one day at a time.
Then, after pilfering through things on the side of the road, he gets an idea – to create a robot! In no time, standing before him is a seven-foot-tall robot with a square midsection, one blue eye and a mannequin head. None of this seems out of the ordinary to Brian, what does is that his creation does not wake up when he flicks the switch.
Oh well, Brian moves on and after spending the day taking care of errands, he returns home in time for a thunderstorm. He quickly discovers that the robot is very much alive! Deciding he likes the name ‘Charles’, Brian discovers what his new friend is capable of. Charles (Chris Hayward) walks, talks and is very curious.
Spending plenty of time together, Charles then wants to go outside the boundaries Brian has set for him and the boxy creation is not happy. Challenging Brian at every turn, Charles almost sounds like a rebellious teen. Then Hazel (Louise Brealey) enters their lives, and she gets to experience Charles and Brian together. So does the local bully Eddie (Jamie Michie) and his equally bullying family.
Deciding THEY want Charles, a show-down that has been a long-time coming pits man against, well, Charles!
Earl as Brian is just about as comfortable with himself as any character I have seen in quite a while. He sees the world in a special way and does not apologize for it, nor should he. The townsfolk accept it (given one particular family) and when Charles comes along, everything in his life seems to open up more enjoyment. Earl is so charming in this role that is becomes impossible not to want every happy ending ever for him. Well done, Earl!
Hayward as Charles is delightful, stubborn, loving, testy and brooding at times. Oh wait, that sounds exactly like my kids when they were teenagers! That’s probably what made me laugh the most about Charles, as he goes through his stages, as a mom, I recognize every one of them. One thing is clear, Charles loves Brian when most would say it is impossible for a ‘machine’ to love. Charles can change their minds easily, well done Hayward.
Brealy as Hazel is sweet, sensitive, shy, supportive and so in love with Brian. She does not seem to flinch one bit when she meets Charles, just accepts that whatever makes Earl happy is alright with her. She immediately after becomes the female figure in Charles’ life and he could have had a better one.
Michie as Eddie is just the town bully who refuses to grow up. His antics are mean and dangerous, and it does not help that his family encourages it. Now, that being said, well done when a character can make me yell at the screen!
Other cast include Nina Sosanya as Pam, Lynn Hunter as Winnie, Lowri Izzard as Katrina, Mari Izzard as Suki, Cara Chase as June, Rishi Nair as Stephen, Colin Bennett as Arthur and Nicholas Asbury as Stu.
Director Archer says of the film, “You need to believe in their relationship and that Charles is more than a mannequin’s head stuck onto a washing machine. Once we achieved this, then I think the comedy takes care of itself.”
Hoping to take something away from with film, Earl as Brian says, “I just hope we trick the audience into believing Charles is a robot and not just Chris Hayward standing in a box. Hopefully they fall in love with this bizarre little due, and all the other broken little characters in the film.”
Hayward says about his role of Charles, “There are several themes running through the film; loneliness, friendship, love and loss. But it’s mainly about the journey of a ridiculous man and a ridiculous robot.”
BRIAN AND CHARLES was written by both Earl and Hayward which makes it especially magical that these two brought their thoughts to a script and then to screen so beautifully. Without the outside world involved in the beginning, a chance for these two characters to explore their small piece of the world is important. The end result, without spoiling it, say everything about small town living.
This is one of the kindest films in that their relationship can not be defined. They both are who they are and that, ladies and gentlemen, is absolutely everything.
In the end – some friendships are built to last!