14 July 2018

ACORN MEDIA PRESENTS: PATRICK MELROSE. THE SUPERB TV SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.




PATRICK MELROSE. WRITTEN BY DAVID NICHOLLS. DIRECTED BY EDWARD BERGER.
STARRING BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, HUGO WEAVING, JENNIFER JASON LEIGH, BLYTHE DANNER, CELIA IMRIE AND PIP TORRENS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'Benedict Cumberbatch (SHERLOCK) returns to our TV screens with a mind-blowing performance as the eponymous PATRICK MELROSE, a deeply troubled man struggling with his past and out-of-control drug-fuelled present. Based on the much-loved novels by Edward St. Aubyn and adapted by renowned writer David Nicholls (ONE DAY), this SKY original production arrives on DVD from ACORN MEDIA INTERNATIONAL, a division of RLJ ENTERTAINMENT INC.

The critically-acclaimed series depicts five chapters in the life of the troubled Melrose, from his abusive childhood to his drug-addled adulthood and co-stars Hugo Weaving (THE LORD OF THE RINGS) and Jennifer Jason Leigh (THE HATEFUL EIGHT) alongside an outstanding ensemble cast. Following its run on SKY ATLANTIC, this sometimes dark but sparklingly sharp drama is released on DVD on 16th July 2018.'

'People make too big a deal of getting clean.'

'And that was the beginning of my love affair with medicine...!'

'My wife's money relieved me of the necessity to lead a useful life.'

'Don't ever tell your mother, or anyone else, about today, or I will snap you in two.'

'Death changes us all, but I doubt if it has the power to transform my father into a small Jewish man...!'

'After the war, the Nazis killed everyone in the village except for Marcel. Which is lucky for us, he makes the most divine food...!'

Patrick Melrose is a mess. The man, that is, not the TV series, which is superlative by anyone's standards. Patrick Melrose the man, a posh British chap played by another posh British chap, Benedict Cumberbatch, doesn't seem to do any work but lives on inherited wealth. Nice work if you can get it, huh?

He sleeps around, unable to commit to any one woman. He hears voices in his head and, what's worse, answers them back. He spends his oodles of money on a continuous cocktail of drugs (heroin, cocaine and quaaludes), fags and booze, enough to kill a dozen elephants, in an attempt to block out his horrifically abusive childhood at the hands of his utter bastard of a father David Melrose. Daddy Melrose is played by Hugo Weaving, the head Elf in Peter Jackson's magnificent film trilogy, THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

Flashbacks to Patrick's childhood are enough to chill the blood. David Melrose, a doctor who nonetheless lives off his filthy-rich American wife's money, is an utter bastard. We already know he's a sadist when we see him stub out his cigar on an unsuspecting fly. Now, I'm not a big fan of flies myself, but to do something like that requires a level of premeditated cruelty that I'm certain I don't possess.

Just to say, by the way, that the action takes place between 1967 and 2005. The show moves backwards and forwards quite quickly between the different eras and you're expected to keep up, lol, but it's really not as annoying as it sounds. It happens very naturally and organically.

The film-makers also skip back-and-forth between London, New York and Provence in France. The 'Sixties flashbacks to Patrick's childhoood in the idyllic villa in Provence are probably the most gripping of all the scenes and time periods but they're also the hardest to watch.

David's wife Eleanor, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, exists on booze and prescription pills herself because of David's bullying, hectoring ways. Jennifer Jason Leigh is brilliant at playing damaged, boozy pill-poppers. Her performance as the sexually abused child of Dolores Claiborne in the Stephen King movie adaptation was touchingly sad and spot-on.

In the flashbacks, Eleanor drives her Cadillac very, very fast while drunk and dresses like Jackie O because that was the style of the time. The fashion, that is, not the drunk-driving! She takes terrible risks, like the eight-year-old Patrick does also, that could lead to her death. Maybe that's what they're both secretly hoping for. Death would free them both from David's sneery, sarcastic brutality.

David bullies his wife into staying distant from their son, Patrick. We see the terrible irony of Mummy writing a no-doubt substantial cheque for SAVE THE CHILDREN while her own son, her terrorised, miserable and even suicidal eight-year-old son is standing right beside her, silently screaming for her to notice that there's something terribly wrong with him.

David the bully tells her that 'it doesn't do to mollycoddle a child,' and now she tells herself that the secret of good parenting is 'not to interfere.' That way, she relieves herself of all responsibility for protecting the boy from his evil father.

How much does Eleanor know, one wonders, and is the parent who stands by and does nothing, even if it's out of fear for themselves, every bit as culpable as the abusive parent? You can sin by omission too, can't you...? I wouldn't entirely relieve her from all culpability myself.

The adult Patrick's behaviour is one hundred million percent explained by his abusive childhood. People deal with that cross in different ways. Fags, booze, prescription pills, hard drugs, over-eating, promiscuity (otherwise known as looking for love in all the wrong places) or trying to organise one's surroundings and life to such a rigid degree that we never feel that things are out-of-control ever again, an impossible task. Try as we might, it's not possible to control everything around us.

What's going to happen to the adult Patrick? The series opens with some staggering news for Patrick, news which he's going to have to deal with at some stage. At first, he tries to deal with it the way he deals with everything, by doing a ton of drugs and charging out into the night to find more drugs when he has none left, running the gamut of drug-dealers in a strange city who go around armed to the teeth and for whom a stoned-out-of-his-skull rich British guy will be easy pickings.

Patrick: 'Were you going to stab me?'

American drug-dealer: 'Sure I wuz gonna stab ya!'

Patrick: 'Well, um, thank you Mark, for not stabbing me...!'

He'll be dead soon enough though if he keeps that up. Will he allow his a**hole of a father to ruin what's left of his life? Or can he achieve the impossible, that is, getting clean, and can he ever relieve himself somewhat, even slightly, of the burden of his childhood sexual abuse by sharing it with someone else? A trouble shared is a trouble halved, after all.

Given the kind of rich bored party people, continually looking for kicks and thrills and artificial highs, with whom he associates, it's going to be a long painful road back to some kind of normality for Patrick Melrose, and he may not even make it.

The award for Biggest W*nker of the series, after David Melrose of course, goes to... don't laugh... Princess Margaret, the Queen's sister. No offence intended to the British Royal Family, but she comes across here as an absolute nightmare of an auld bitch in the dinner party scene. And the funniest line in the whole thing is when someone remarks:

'What I admire most about Princess Margaret is the way she puts everyone at their ease...!'

One nearly choked on one's caviare...

(In a sobering postscript, it causes me great sadness to have to reveal that Sammy the Salamander, who plays Gary the Gekko in the series, is no longer with us. While attempting to grab a sneaky interview with him, I was told by a production assistant that Sammy was deeply affected by the traumatic nature of his role in the popular and electrifying series. 

After getting high as a kite on a cocktail of quaaludes, coke and heroin that would have put Patrick Melrose himself to shame, Sammy was run over by a truck while crossing the street to get fags and a sausage roll from the petrol station over the road. Due to the rather squished condition of the remains, the funeral was not open-casket. RIP, Sammy. He will be missed by all who worked with him.)

'Benedict Cumberbatch (SHERLOCK) returns to our TV screens with a mind-blowing performance as the eponymous PATRICK MELROSE, a deeply troubled man struggling with his past and out-of-control drug-fuelled present. Based on the much-loved novels by Edward St. Aubyn and adapted by renowned writer David Nicholls (ONE DAY), this SKY original production arrives on DVD from ACORN MEDIA INTERNATIONAL, a division of RLJ ENTERTAINMENT INC.

The critically-acclaimed series depicts five chapters in the life of the troubled Melrose, from his abusive childhood to his drug-addled adulthood and co-stars Hugo Weaving (THE LORD OF THE RINGS) and Jennifer Jason Leigh (THE HATEFUL EIGHT) alongside an outstanding ensemble cast. Following its run on SKY ATLANTIC, this sometimes dark but sparklingly sharp drama is released on DVD on 16th July 2018.'

'It must have split the world in half.'

'When I was eight, and for some years after, my father...'

'Oblivion would be wonderful, if I didn't have this horror of forgetting.'

'You were either upstairs in bed with someone else or passed out in the loo.'

'It's the end of the party.' 'It's more than that. It's the end of an era.'

'Perhaps the only way to survive is to become more detached from yourself and become more attached to someone else.'

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com








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