Brand: A Second Coming, film review: Like the comedian, this documentary is inspired, funny and infuriating

(15) Ondi Timoner, 102 mins

Geoffrey Macnab
Friday 23 October 2015 00:06
Russell Brand  in the documentary ‘Brand: A Second Coming’
Russell Brand in the documentary ‘Brand: A Second Coming’

Ondi Timoner's documentary reflects its subject. Like the comedian/activist/movie star/author Russell Brand himself, the film is inspired, funny and infuriating by turns.

Early on, there are some surprisingly poignant moments as Brand revisits his old school and knocks on the door of the house in Grays, Essex, where he grew up. The family who live there invite him in. Everything is smaller than he remembers. We see the comedian in the bathroom where he used to lock himself away from the world. Timoner includes plenty of footage of Brand's charming mother and one or two uncomfortable scenes with his father, who, notoriously, set him up with prostitutes in a hotel in Hong Kong.

The film makes us very aware of Brand's precocious talent and highlights one of the main contradictions about him as a personality – namely that he seems utterly self-obsessed and yet, from an early age, has had a burning sense of indignation about injustices suffered by others.

This is clearly a project that was made with Brand's approval, at least initially. Timoner wouldn't have had such access either to him or his relatives, friends and addiction counsellors (who seem to like him enormously) if he hadn't given his blessing. The comedian is reportedly unhappy with how A Second Coming turned out. There are some uncomfortably intimate sequences, and one or two in which Brand behaves in petulant and self-pitying fashion. At the same time, Timoner's portrait is generally affectionate and admiring.

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