By Hugues Porquier.
“Patrick” is a film by Tim Mielants, mainly known for his work on Peaky Blinders season 3. Accustomed to the TV shows format, “Patrick” is Tim Mielants’ first feature film. It had its world premiere at the 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, where it competed for the Crystal Globe, winning the Best Director Award for Mielants.
The film follows Patrick (played by Kevin Janssens), a 38 years old man who lives and works as a handyman in a nudist camp owned by his parents. His mother is blind and his father is getting too old to run the camp properly. Patrick looks like a child in the body of an adult. He looks completely innocent, naïve and he seems to be more gifted for practical work than for intellectual exercises.
His work as a handyman has allowed him to develop a passion for his tools and a taste to create objects such as chairs, dressers and bookcases. But the sudden death of his father, patriarch and respected figure, will upset the balance of the nudist camp. However Patrick does not seem to be really affected by his father’s death.
Something much more important has just happened to him, he lost one of his hammers. From that moment, we witness a story that goes from drama to comedy and vice versa. We follow Patrick in his quest to find his precious hammer. From now on, his whole life seems dedicated to this task.
This quest allows us to discover several characters from the camp, each member of the camp quickly becomes a potential suspect for Patrick. These successive appearances give a good rhythm to the movie, which, in spite of some beautiful shots, seems quite slow in the first part. However, side stories around some characters does not seem really useful.
We could take for example the character of Liliane. The film begins her presentation but never finishes it, so we can’t really understand her choices and her behaviour. During his investigation, Patrick will be victim of the sneakiness of the camp members who abuse his apparent naivety and his desire to find his hammer.
Some want to take the lead of the camp like Herman and others just want to have free stays in exchange of information about his hammer. He will also meet a young and kind woman, Nathalie (played by Hannah Hoekstra). As Patrick, she is also victim of her innocence. She has been fooled by Dustin Apollo (played by Jemaine Clement), a music star.
Nathalie sees in Patrick a sensitive man, who has a mad talent for the creation of furniture. She will try to make him realize that he can aspire to a much better life. The hammer will finally be found. It has been used to commit a murder in Brussels.
Patrick will be logically accused of this crime before being quickly cleared. But the most important thing for Patrick is that he will never get his hammer back. At this moment, he seems to fully realize that his life will never be the same again due to his father’s death and the fact that his mother has decided to live somewhere else.
He is facing an existential dilemma, between taking over his father’s work and going to live a new life with Nathalie. The use of nudity in this movie is questionable. It doesn’t bring anything special except for some scenes which feed the comic aspect of the movie.
This film portrays a man endowed with a limitless innocence, who does not seem to have the weapons to live in a society such as ours, and who will have to go through a difficult transition, full of changes and unforeseen events. In spite of some script-writing weaknesses and a slight lack of rhythm « Patrick » is still a very convincing first feature film from Tim Mielants.
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