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Brian and Charles Movie Review

Brian and Charles is a cute, charming, comedy and was such a refreshment after some of the heavy subject of Sundance this year.

brain and charles sundance review

A still from Brian and Charles by Jim Archer, an official selection of the World Cinema: Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Right from the first few minutes it is clear that Brian and Charles is an absolute delight to watch. It is witty, charming, and downright silly. While it certainly isn’t perfect, it is very entertaining. Charles, the android that Brian builds and befriends, is very reminiscent of Jeff in Finch, starring Tom Hanks. He may look older due to his design, but he is essentially a child, and with that comes an innocence that makes him the star of the film.

This film follows a quirky inventor, who isn’t so great at inventing, and Charles, his best invention by far, as they struggle through their friendship. Brian creates Charles so he is very much like a parent to him, and their relationship often parallels that of a father and son. There is a respect there, but there are also times that Charles gets very sassy with Brian, and even talks back to him.

It is the small details and touches that are added to this film that make it special. Charles swinging his legs, stomping his feet, or bouncing up and down when he gets excited — the things like that which make him more lovable than expected. One of the times I laughed the hardest during all of Sundance 2022 is when Charles repeatedly told Brian “no” when Brian tried to get him to go inside. 

The longer the movie goes on, the more Charles grows up. As with any child, he wants to see the world and explore. I am a mother myself and I dread the day when my children wish to go on adventures away from home. But I also look forward to them, because I want what is best for them, and I want them to have fun and live their own lives. This is clearly something that Brian struggles with as well, and trust me, I can relate. 

Brian and Charles is filmed in a somewhat unique way that really makes this movie work. It is made to look like a documentary, with the premise that someone is filming and interviewing Brian. For those who have seen What We Do In The Shadows, the style is very similar to that. Viewers never see the person behind the camera, but it is clear that Brian is speaking to him. Because of this style, the movie is a lot more believable and relatable. It feels like it is following around real people, and a real artificial intelligence robot. 

The biggest issue with this movie is the third act that goes just a bit off course. That said, it is still integral to the story and adds some depth and stakes to what is otherwise just a fun comedic film. 

Brian and Charles is a charming comedy, that has a lot of hilarious moments. As a mother, this is one of the Sundance 2022 films that I related to the most. Charles steals every scene, making this movie an absolute joy to watch.

A charming comedy that is a joy to watch. Charles steals every scene with his innocence and sense of adventure. The third act goes a bit off course but is easily forgiven.

Read more Sundance Film Festival coverage.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

About Brian and Charles

An endearing outlier, Brian lives alone in a Welsh valley, inventing oddball contraptions that seldom work. After finding a discarded mannequin head, Brian gets an idea. Three days, a washing machine, and sundry spare parts later, he’s invented Charles, an artificially intelligent robot who learns English from a dictionary and proves a charming, cheeky companion.

Before long, however, Charles also develops autonomy. Intrigued by the wider world — or whatever lies beyond the cottage where Brian has hidden him away — Charles craves adventure.

Brian and Charles played at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.