Brian and Charles

Where I Watched It: Peacock

English Audio Description?: Yes

Here’s a film you likely haven’t watched, and have no idea what it is. Believe it or not, but earlier this year, this was a theatrical release. This is not a straight-to-Peacock film, something that seems to be happening more and more with less content headed to theatres. This off kilter comedy features a cast of people I’m totally unfamiliar with in a unique premise. Brian is a man living by himself out in the countryside somewhere in the UK, and he likes to build things. One day, he builds Charles, a robot. At first, Charles doesn’t work, but then he does.

So, it’s a Man and his Robot film. It’s Short Circuit, Chappie, I Robot, Finch, and a bunch of other films rolled into an indie vibe. A lot of people use the term now “A24 Vibes”, and this has that. It’s a personal story with this big science fiction element, as Charles is just born into a world with no knowledge. He has to learn everything as he goes, and he learns that he loves cabbage, even if he doesn’t really eat. He dreams of trips to Honolulu, and reads whatever is lying around in his ample free time.

The conflict in this film is where the movie gets weak. Brian lives outside a village, so there are other people around, yet there’s this guy and his family who are aggressively 2,000 times over the top on being assholes. In one scene, this guy walks into a store, and takes stuff, and says to put it on his tab (which is made clear through the film that he doesn’t really ahve one, it’s just his way of stealing). Even Brian refers to this guy walking onto his property in the past and taking whatever he wanted. This film, which is shot for some reason mockumentary style, even shows one of the cameramen running from this clan. Is there seriously no one in this town who can stand up to him? I know guns don’t always solve problems, but is no one in the entire village armed with anything? Does no one know how to fight? What is going on?

So of course, this telegraphs what will led to be the big climax of the film, and it’s how Brian reacts to the film that shows how much Charles has changed him, and what true friendship looks like. Even if one person in the relationship isn’t human.

It’s not a perfect film. The villain is way too much. I don’t know why the film is made to seem like a documentary is being filmed. Who thinks Brian is interesting enough to record his life? Why does anyone care? i think it’s just a cheap trick to have Brian, who spends a lot of time alone, be able to talk without seeming crazy for talking to himself. And the ending, while it has a glimmer of charm, makes little sense considering how the film plays out.

But, the friendship, and the absolutely adorable nature and mannerisms that Charles has make this a winning film. It is still a film that will put a smile on your face, and a spark of creativity in your head.

Peacock always kicks me out and doesn’t let me find out who narrates their things, so i have no idea who did this, but they did a good job. I will admit, that I felt like i wasn’t 100% sure of Charles’s design. There were things I picked up on, but size relativity would have helped here, and continuing to remind us of his unnatural state and how it affects his state of being in every scene might have been the way to go. He’s by far the most interesting thing to describe in this film, so why miss the opportunity to do so?

In short, an off beat comedy featuring a bunch of people you likely don’t know that is quite charming.

Final Grade: B

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