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Patrick Review: Can a good film be a mediocre movie?

‘Patrick’ will probably go over well with those who like film.

Have you ever met a person who tells you they do not watch “movies”? Instead, they spend their viewing time watching “film”. What’s the difference? Only those people can tell you. (Usually they can’t, but that’s an argument better left alone.) Patrick will probably go over well with those who only watch film. But what about fans of movies?

Patrick is a 2019 Belgium film set in a nudist camp. The titular character is nearing forty, lives at his parents’ cabin, and is socially aloof. When his father dies, he inherits control of the camp. But a missing hammer makes the transition harder than he thought.

Dealing with grief is a common theme in stories. Since people deal with the emotion in different ways, these types of movies offer various possibilities. The one thing they all have in common is the potential for an interesting character study.

Patrick is a deep look at an intriguing character. It is an impressive performance from Kevin Janssens. Patrick may be dealing with the loss of his father, but he shows little emotion. Aside from his determination in finding his missing hammer, it is impossible to tell what the character is thinking. His actions come off as very cold. His happy go lucky life has changed and he is unwilling to accept it. The audience cannot help but pity the manchild.

Somehow, this leads to some very funny moments. Patrick is obsessed with finding his hammer. It is clearly a reaction to his father’s passing as it is the only way he knows how to deal with the death. The humor is not found in the dialogue. Instead, Director Tim Mielants work behind the camera makes audiences laugh. Mileants does a great job of effectively using the setting to tell his tragicomedy. The joke is not so much in what the audience hears but in what they see.

The exception are the scenes with Jemaine Clement. Clement is a comedic joy as Dustin. Dustin is supposed music pop idol who has come to the nudist camp to relax. He is a great change of pace in a movie that delivers its laughs indirectly. He is openly funny and lets the audience know when it is okay to laugh.

Pacing may be the biggest issue movie goers have with Patrick. The flow of the movie is contemplative and methodical. It makes sense since this is a story about a man dealing with loss. The mystery may center around a missing hammer, but the movie is truly about acceptance. The tale slowly builds to its ending.

As good as the performances and direction are, they may not be enough to keep audiences engaged. The question of the missing hammer is intriguing but is hampered by an anticlimactic payoff. Clement has a small role and the expressionless main character may turn those watching away. Patrick’s satisfying character arc requires patience from the viewer.

Patrick is a slow burning film about a man dealing with the loss of a parent. How he does so is as funny as it is sad. The unique location looks stunning. The story’s glacial pace may turn people off, however. The story does many things right, but it will be a hard sell for even the biggest “film” fans.

Patrick (De Patrick)
Is it good?
An moving film that may have trouble finding its audience. An emotional story that may be told too methodically.
Awesome fight scene in third act
Mixes comedy and tragedy well
Slow pace will turn many away

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