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Brian and Charles (2022)

“Quirky” seemed to be the word many of us delivered on this good-natured British film. Well, what can you say about the relationship between a lonely man and the robot friend he creates? Jim Archer’s 2022 film, based on his very entertaining short from 2017, gave us a fun evening. It brought in a good size audience too, several newcomers and a mixed age range. There was even some applause when the baddies got their inevitable come-uppance.

Running as a nicely compact 90 minutes, we felt the film was plotted well and it sped by. There is something interesting about Brian and Charles, in that audiences seem to project their own feelings onto it. It’s a blank page. A simple story about a ‘bromance’ between man and robot becomes a reflection on loneliness, community, accepting the outsider and even slavery and freedom.

We see Charles starting off as a child, learning the dictionary from start to end and asking questions about the outside world. We witness his stroppy adolescence “whatever” phase and his final adult journey away from the home. The 2017 short, with its different story line, also reminded people of nursing relatives with dementia.

There are echoes of Frankenstein, but also our discussion group also mentioned Wallace and Gromit. Equally, the ‘odd couple’ set-up reminded us of Laurel and Hardy. We were all quite charmed by Charles’ robotic speech delay and his repetitive “I am sleeping” mantra.

Although we had some issues with the bad family in the film, which we found somewhat unconvincing, we had a very long appreciative discussion which also touched on AI and the direction technology is going. A big thank you to Rachel and Karen for the fabulous life-style Charles model, which gave us some great seaside style photo opportunities.

Anne Goldstein

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