Patrick (4 stars)

Patrick

Quirky Belgian black comedy from Peaky Blinders' Tim Mielants following the quest for a missing hammer

Some people really love their tools and there's nothing wrong with that. But what happens when a tool becomes a substitute for something else? It's this unlikely question that Belgian curio Patrick seeks to answer, as it follows the handyman for a nudist campsite who is searching for his missing hammer in the aftermath of his father's death.

Sympathetically, and very oddly, brought to life by Kevin Janssens (Revenge), the 38-year-old Patrick is a bit of a sorry fellow. With his bowl haircut, downcast eyes and awkward, embarrassed manner he obediently tends to tasks around the family run, woodland-based site. When his father Rudy (Josse Du Pauw) perishes shortly after one of his prized hammers goes missing, Patrick seems to fixate on the latter. He pursues its disappearance as one would a crime, eyeing the regular visitors as suspects – in fairness, everyone seems incredibly shifty, despite having it all ostensibly on display – and taking advice from Bouli Lanners' kindly policeman on how to approach his investigation.

There's a falling out with the chairman of the camp committee, Herman (Pierre Bokma), who is positioning himself to take control, and whose wife Liliane (Ariane Van Vliet) Patrick is having sex with, with no apparent enjoyment on his part. In a fun cultural anomaly, Jemaine Clement pops up as self-absorbed pop star Dustin Apollo, while Hannah Hoekstra is Dustin's unhappy girlfriend, who Patrick takes a shine to.

Although making his feature debut, Tim Mielants has got plenty of form helming stylish TV, including directing every episode of series three of Peaky Blinders. Mielants and co-writer Benjamin Sprengers might have conceived a heavily eccentric premise, yet Patrick is made with skill and performed with pluck and so proves very absorbing. There's an unsettling air out in the woods that seems to anticipate violence, but the film never takes us into horror territory and remains amusing (and a touch sorrowful) throughout. And, of course, everything is funnier when the participants are nonchalantly naked – arguing, dancing, holding committees, doing DIY – in that sense, it's a gag that keeps giving.

Clement fans may be disappointed, he's here for little more than a cameo. However, he does deliver some invaluable, unsolicited advice at a crucial juncture in Patrick's search, telling him. 'Sometimes to get what you want, you have to not want what you want.' Well, quite.

Available to watch on demand from Fri 20 Nov, including via Anti-Worlds where you can choose for the profits to be shared with a local cinema.

Patrick

  • 4 stars
  • 2019
  • Belgium / France
  • 1h 37min
  • Directed by: Tim Mielants
  • Cast: Kevin Janssens, Jemaine Clement, Hannah Hoekstra

At the age of 38, Patrick still lives his parents. But when his father dies, his life changes.

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