Nutshell Review: Patrick Melrose
PG Score: 8.25/10
Patrick Melrose (available to stream on Showtime and Amazon Prime) is an exceptional miniseries anchored by a transcendent performance from Benedict Cumberbatch. How he didn’t win an Emmy or a Golden Globe for this role is beyond me. He was nominated for both, but I’m dumbfounded that he didn't take home an award.
This five part miniseries is based on a book series by Edward St. Aubyn. The story follows Patrick Melrose through various stages of his life, from his deeply troubled childhood to his drug and alcohol riddled stages of adulthood. There are five books and each episode follows one book and shares its title. I haven’t read the books, but just know this based on my brief background research. I particularly like this style and I found it to be an effective set up.
Cumberbatch is masterful in his depiction of a truly damaged individual and the resulting manifestation of addiction. The other actor deserving of many accolades is Hugo Weaving, who plays Patrick’s father and delivers a quite remarkable performance. It’s worth noting that the entire cast does a great job; Hugo and Benedict are simply the standouts.
This a heavy show and displays frequent and realistic scenes of drug and alcohol abuse. It’s not gratuitous, but shown in a light that’s necessary to propel the story and show just how deeply Patrick is suffering. I was especially impressed by how well the show manages the jumping of time periods. The flashback sequences are expertly intertwined with the present day events. Whether it be brief flashes of imagery or full-blown memories playing out, it’s all portrayed in a very meaningful and comprehendible fashion for the most part.
My only substantial complaints occur in the finale. One is that I felt like it jumped around a bit too much, causing some minor confusion. Secondly, I felt like it could’ve ended with more of a bang. Still, the finale was a satisfying end to the story and doesn’t detract too heavily from the series overall. Patrick Melrose is worth watching for Benedict’s performance alone, but the fact that the show is so well done makes it that much better. As long as you’re prepared for the graphic nature of the substance abuse, I highly recommend this one.