Brand: A Second Coming
In Russell Brand’s own words his actions have to be based on comedy, and Ondi Timoner has stayed true to that ethos throughout her documentary. Whilst confronting the darker, more gritty elements Brand is trying to tackle the comedy shines through in the people he has surrounded himself with and, naturally, through Brand himself.
Brand has some good points and they can be flawed; in typical Brand-style his goal is the extreme, a total deconstruction of the institutional systems we obey today in place of a class-free utopia. The fact is, as this documentary highlights, whether the traditional institutions like it or not he is achieving a feat those before him have struggled with, he is mobilizing dialogue across the classes and generations towards politics.
At times the trips down memory lane and Brand’s narration can feel a little like we are being force-fed his man of the people persona, but with Brand it works. Here is a man who created his fame through the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy: believe it until you achieve it. He has the intense drive of the attention-seeking philanthropist needed to get the attention and reaction of those he is talking about, and that is engaging, exciting and different enough to have people hooked.
Timoner’s documentary is energetic, fast-paced and remarkably unbiased. It shows his flaws, it opens him to analysis, and in that it emulates Brand’s frank and honest nature, deployed with the directing skill of a two-time winner of the Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize for documentaries. Whether it needed quite as much running time to do it in is debatable.
Brand is a fame-driven extremist with a social conscious, and only time will tell if the two often opposing attributes can placate each other through his goal of being remembered as an icon for social change. It is tough as he is fighting a battle against the institutions that have made it possible for him to be at the forefront of the fight.
There is a lot to Brand on paper one may dislike but, given the platform to explain himself, it works. He is fast, quick-witted, intelligent and it is a credit to Timoner to have shown that essence in both the good and bad press he has received.
Brand: A Second Coming is released nationwide on 8th October 2015. It is part of the Galas competition in the 59th London Film Festival.
Watch the trailer for Brand: A Second Coming here: