Review: Patrick's Day
Director: Terry McMahon
By Rhys Tarling
Patrick’s Day is a strung-together collection of good intentions, scenes that are viscerally effective in their nightmarishness or loveliness, great music, and perfect performances. It’s a shame that the sloppy narrative fails to elevate these things.
The first 30 minutes or so are engaging. The titular character (Moe Dunford) is a 26 year old sufferer of schizophrenia but he manages an okay enough existence with the help of a strict routine and his loving but domineering mother, Maura (Kerry Fox). The film opens with Patrick and his mother celebrating St. Patrick’s day; complete with cake and visiting a carnival, a routine that has obviously not deviated in the slightest since Patrick was a child. Maura and Patrick get separated in a crowd and so a confused and frightened Patrick makes his way to the pub. There he meets Karen (Catherine Walker) a pretty, older woman who takes a liking to Patrick. She takes him back to her room to fool around and, much to Maura’s horror, Patrick falls in love with her. Karen has her own demons, though: alcoholism, self-loathing, and something else that isn’t really explored but is enough to compel her to try to kill herself.
An intriguing beginning that promises interesting characters doing interesting things. Instead, Patrick’s Day, curiously, opts to do nothing of interest. Much of the remaining hour and ten minutes is focused on Maura’s (Maura, by far the least sympathetic, least engaging character) machinations to separate Patrick and Karen, to convince poor Patrick that Karen is just a delusion. It’s deathly dull and mean-spirited. It’s a bizarre narrative choice to place so much focus on her doing manipulative things on thin grounds while the others are, more or less, reduced to plot devices.
Anyway, Maura enlists in the help of a local policeman to help her with her dirty work, and he is at least enormously entertainingly funny and endearingly sad. But nothing about this guy—his dream of being a stand-up comedian, his crooked past—amounts to anything aside from giving the actor some good material to chew on in particular scenes.
A love story between a 26-year-old schizophrenic man and a wryly funny, suicidal older woman sounds appealingly conventional and unconventional, right? The few scenes they share together would make a great trailer, I’m sure; afternoon sunlight bathing them, cute and intense exchanges, appealingly artsy and low rent cinematography conveying a homey verisimilitude. Pleasant textural details to hook you in the moment. But nothing really to offer in the way of greater insight or poignancy. Exhibit A of “It’s a good idea of a premise that isn’t fleshed out enough”. As a result, the final scene, which is painstakingly designed to eek out some tears, just leaves you scratching your head and agreeing with the low murmurs of displeasure in the theatre.
And yet I don’t think this is a bad film. Just a squandered one. There’s enough here to recommend it as undemanding Sunday afternoon viewing. Just don’t expect it to resonate.