Brand: A Second Coming, 2015
Directed by Ondi Timoner
Starring Russell Brand
BRAND – A SECOND COMING follows comedian Russell Brand’s spiritual journey from addict and Hollywood star to self-proclaimed revolutionary and explores our relationship to the consumerism and individualism that drives our society and distracts us at a time when it’s vital for all of us to wake up and take action.
If ever a public figure who was the epitome of “marmite”, someone so divisive that they split the opinion in two, then Russell Brand is probably such a figure. Ever since he burst onto the scene in the early 2000’s, gracing the stand-up circuit in and around London, Brand has been synonymous with mischief and rascality, using his own personal dramas and embarrassments (some shown in-depth here) to bring humour to the masses. For many he was an overly-confident sex tornado who blew through the world of celebrity and brought controversy wherever he went. Remember Sachsgate? That for many was one step too far.
However, after his affair with the top echelons of fame with films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall (in which he excelled) and Arthur (less so) as well as his high-profile marriage to Katy Perry (featured briefly here), Brand shunned the celebrity he had some desperately yearned for in his early life and set about taking over the world. Not in the typical tyrannical way, but to try to take over the world with positivity, with love and with a purpose to try to change its nature. Anyone that has seen his other 2015 documentary, The Emperor’s New Clothes, will know exactly what that means: taking on world leaders, the powerful and the wealthy as he tries to start his noble attempts at “revolution.”
Whatever you think of Brand, his comedy, his persona, his films and indeed his revolution, it’s hard to not be totally ensconced in his presence: his mannerisms and thesarus-bending language, the latter of which has the ability unto itself to trap you in his endless musings, seduce you into his world, making director Ondi Timoner’s (DIG!) job that much easier – just point the camera and shoot, and Brand will pull you in and not let you go.
Timoner captures his world in raw, naked detail, from his early beginning when it looked like Brand would destroy himself, to his new-wave of political interests that saw him trapped in bathroom’s before his big speeches, such are his demons with rejection. She gets access-all-areas with no place for Brand to hide, but with such access comes an searing portrayal of a man wrestling down his demons by slaying them with positivity and passion.
The biggest question the film will pose is whether such insight into the mercurial Brand will seduce or further repulse the detractors, and will such observations penetrate perceptions that he is more publicity monger than a true political power, and the answer is probably no. The film amplifies Brand’s unique “brand” and for those that find him insufferable its unlikely to change anything, but it does go some way to proving that his actions and journey along his new chosen path is nothing but sincere and admirable. If he or the film manage to change one mind, then there is a vindication that his actions may make a difference.
Brand: A Second Coming does what all great one should, taking you not just “behind-the-scenes” but telling the true story of its subjects, flaws and all. Odin Timoner’s film is impassioned and forthright (and brilliantly funny) about Brand and his “messiah complex”, and rightly or wrongly he is slowly making the right noises. If there is a criticism of the film it perhaps lies in it’s length as the almost two-hour runtime feels quite stretched in places, but it never fully distracts from the film’s purpose.
Whether change does come, both revolutionary and personal, there perhaps isn’t a more enigmatic person to follow right now. Brand is a self-confessed narcissist, but he’s our narcissist, and one that may yet change the world.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Scott Davis is a Senior Staff Writer at Flickering Myth, and is the co-host of The Flickering Myth Podcast.