Brand: The Second Coming review: ‘A sympathetic but rounded portrait’

PUBLISHED: 17:22 24 October 2015

Russell Brand Opens Trew Era Cafe. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA

Russell Brand Opens Trew Era Cafe. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA

PA/Press Association Images

It’s the establishment who are ultimately left laughing in this thoughtful Russell Brand documentary, says Michael Joyce.

In the ‘70s sitcom Citizen Smith, the leader of the Tooting Popular Front proclaims that after the revolution nobody will have names, just numbers. “What will your number be?” he is asked. “No.1 of course.” The figure of Wolfie Smith is a cheap stick with which to beat Russell Brand with, but when a self-declaimed egotist and narcissist starts talking about revolution, a wise person is wary.

At the start of the film, when Jeremy Paxman is asked if Brand could lead a revolution in this country, he replies, “that’s a really stupid question,” and for a while it looks like this may be a really stupid film. In the time-honoured fashion we see Brand taking us back to his childhood home in Grays, Essex, barging in on the family that live there now and explaining to them what he used to do in their bathroom. From there though the film takes us through the story of his life, which is basically trading up one addiction for the next: obsessive drinking and drug taking is replaced by frantic womanising which is replaced by enormous fame and now political activism.

Brand can be intensely annoying, mostly because he states the bleeding obvious as if it was some great revelation he’s just come up with. He is though often very funny (though not as funny as Noel Gallagher who pops up three times in this film and kills each time) and even if his assesments of politics are obvious, they are right.

Timonen’s film is a sympathetic but rounded portrait that allows for dissenting voices to be heard and often Brand is his own most effective critic. He seems to realise the absurdity of his situation and the shallowness of his motivations. I came out of the film with a lot more respect for him than when I went in, but still wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. He’s a stand-up comic – they’re the biggest monsters of all. Elected on Thursday, he’d be Pol Pot by Friday. When the anti-establishment cause is a choice between a Pound Shop Enoch Powell and a Mock the Week Che Guevara, I’d say the establishment is the one laughing longest and loudest.

For longer reviews and a first look at Spectre go to halfmanhalfcritic.weebly.com

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