List Film

Brand: A Second Coming (3 stars)

Messy but thought-provoking look at the titular entertainer, from Ondi Timoner

Brand: A Second Coming

This portrait of the notorious comedian, actor, lothario, addict and political provocateur Russell Brand is messily constructed, but largely succeeds despite itself, in no small part because of the car-crash charisma of its subject. Director Ondi Timoner (Dig!) seems to have toyed with various approaches – a straightforward celebrity portrait, a meta documentary in which Brand comments on earlier footage of himself, and a Brand-fronted exploration of his vision for humanity – and then tried to make all of them at once, with jumbled consequences.

There’s particular confusion around the timeline: we see Brand at various different points on his journey to and rejection of stardom, but with no indication as to what’s happening when. Further messiness results from way too many talking heads. Interesting interviews have been hacked down to soundbites, and completely pointless ones seemingly included solely because they are with very famous people. And yet, despite these issues with the organisation of the material, the film is for the most part fun, energising and thought-provoking to watch.

Though Brand has distanced himself from the end result, finding it 'oddly intrusive and melancholy', he in no way comes out of it badly. Rather, he is shown to be an infuriating but lovable presence: embarrassingly besotted with himself, yet disarmingly aware of his own shortcomings; too mercurial, needy and distractible to gain the gravitas he craves, but too vulnerable and earnest to seem deserving of the opprobrium he attracts. It’s a pity that only fans are likely to feel compelled to spend 102-minutes in his company. Whether you like or loathe the man, this chaotic foray into his chaotic world has interesting things to say, not just about Brand and his fame, but about a personality type in which many will recognise aspects of themselves, or of people they know.

Selected release from Fri 23 Oct.

Brand: A Second Coming

  • 3 stars
  • 2015
  • UK/US
  • 102 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Ondi Timoner
  • Cast: Russell Brand, Simon Amstell, Barbara Brand, Ron Brand
  • UK release: 23 October 2015

Disorganised and unfocused documentary about comedian, actor, lothario and political provocateur Russell Brand, which largely succeeds because of its subject's car-crash charisma. Despite the over-reliance on soundbites it has interesting things to say about Brand, his fame and his all-too-common combination of needy…


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