Patrick Melrose (2018)


Edward St. Aubin is an English writer and journalist, best known for a series of novels about Patrick Melrose. These are five partially autobiographical books (Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother’s Milk and At Last) in which we follow the life of the heroes from the title. The production companies Showtime and Sky Atlantic stood behind the screening of these books with a total of five episodes, and the title role was given to Benedict Cumberbatch.

Throughout five episodes of this mini-series, we follow Patrick Melrose, a man from a high class who grew up in a very dysfunctional family. In each episode, we follow a certain segment from his life, with numerous flashbacks and the intertwining of action and time. At the very beginning, we discover that Patrick is addicted to numerous psycho-active substances, and we soon realize that his parents David (Hugo Weaving) and Eleanor (Jennifer Jason Leigh) are responsible for his poor mental state. In five episodes, we follow our hero through addiction, abuse, recovery and problems that plague every person…

St. Obin’s book is based on his life and that is the main reason why we have a fantastic insight into the world of the decadent British aristocracy, but also into the world of a neglected and abused boy, who grew into a dysfunctional man. That is why we follow the world of useless and arrogant people with inherited wealth, but also a man whose desperate emotional health originates from early childhood. In a world of great privileges, Patrick feels very alienated, and through five episodes we will understand why.

That world of great privileges is full of immorality, greed, cruelty and snobbery, which in itself means that members of such a society usually cannot be parents by example. Patrick’s father David is a frightening and dominant sadist, while his mother Eleanor is an alcoholic and busy with humanitarian work. Each of them has a bad effect on Patrick’s personality, and we see the consequences of the combination of abuse and absence in the adult Patrick, who is ironic, alienated and antisocial. His path from victim, through addict, to man with good intentions is a kind of path of a modern hero and I believe that you, like me, will wholeheartedly support him. I am aware that it is difficult to be above the ugly or difficult truths that are intertwined in the lives of most of us, but we will support Patrick to find a way to a life worth living with the help of forgiveness.

After reading the lines, it can be concluded that this is a very dark series, but not everything is so black. Although he deals with serious topics and incorporates into his narrative concepts such as heroin addiction, cruelty, narcissism and dementia, Patrick Melrose is full of black humor. This humor is further emphasized by sharp dialogues and well-characterized characters, each of which is material for both disgust and regret. A great script is entrusted to people who obviously know their job, starting from supporting actors, through directors to set designers. Each episode has its own style and tone, and all components work harmoniously and at a high level.

The curiosity is that Cumberbatch stated in an online interview five years ago that he would like to interpret Patrick Melrose, Hamlet as a heroine, so I believe that the producers and he easily and quickly agreed on the engagement. I am of the opinion that no one would do better than him in presenting the main character, that his casting is a complete success and that the whole project rises to a higher level. His acting is fluent, with exceptional physical and mental control, and we are left to admire his techniques, details and timing. Also, Hugo Viving and Jennifer Jason Lee are worthy of all praise in the roles of Patrick’s parents.