Like many comedy actors with a distinctive style, Russell Brand tends not to venture outside of his comfort zone too much. If a director is looking for an actor to portray an intense resentment or yearning, they’ll probably cast someone else, but if they need a gangly mincing cockney with a wide vocabulary, Brand’s their man.
comedy actors with a distinctive style, Russell Brand tends not to venture
outside of his comfort zone too much. If a director is looking for an actor to
portray an intense resentment or yearning, they’ll probably cast someone else,
but if they need a gangly mincing cockney with a wide vocabulary, Brand’s their
As such, any film starring the verbose scoundrel is really only as good
as a person’s tolerance for him and his comedy styling. Arthur may be the
perfect vehicle for Brand to cement his new leading man status but if you can’t
stand the sound of his dropped ‘h’s, there is really nothing here for you. If,
however, you haven’t yet tired of the affable rogue and his wordy dialogue,
you’re in for a treat – this is Brand on top form and also playing his warmest
role to date, displaying the beginnings of some serious acting chops alongside
the typically laugh-out-loud silliness.
A remake of the 1981 classic of the same name originally starring Dudley Moore, Arthur sees Brand take
the titular role as a mega-rich, irresponsible and permanently drunk playboy
who isn’t trusted by his mother to take over the family business. Fed up of his
behaviour, she forces him to marry the more business-minded, but strict, Susan
(Garner) or face being cut off from
his fortune. At the same time, Arthur encounters the poor, free-spirited Naomi
(Gerwig) and begins to fall in love.
All the while, Arthur is looked after by the stern-but-caring Hobson (Mirren), a motherly nanny who cleans up
after him and tries to prevent him from getting into trouble.
The film is slow to gain momentum, as it starts with a series of cute
developments that help to establish Arthur’s care-free attitude towards money
and alcohol (as well as his fondness for famous movie cars) and the predicament
he finds himself in. After the 30min mark, however, the film really hits its
stride and Brand is seemingly let off the leash with his line delivery (and,
you might suspect, allowed to frequently digress from the script). Some of the
funniest moments in the whole film seem to come straight from the top of
Brand’s educated noggin as he wonders aloud about the situation before him.
Perhaps more importantly though, the film has real heart – the
relationship between Arthur and Naomi has a spark of childlike magic and wonder
about it, and this ties in with Arthur’s drinking problem and his need to
become a better man in order to take charge of his own life again. While Brand
plays these moments with a sense of naivety and denial, more impressive are the
few scenes in which he delivers genuine heartbreak and sorrow.
However, the film is, of course, primarily a comedy and this works
mainly thanks to the central relationships within the film. Outside of Arthur’s
love interests, the most important of these is his relationship with Hobson,
whom Mirren plays with the perfect amount of hidden affection for the manchild
she has grown up caring for.
Overall, Brand-haters will do well to steer clear of this film, but any
more sensibly minded viewers will find that Arthur is a hilarious, and
surprisingly heart-warming, experience.