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Patrick Melrose is a new kind of family saga which takes a scathing and sardonic view of the upper-classes, shining an unforgiving light on the privilege, greed, cruelty and vulnerabilities that lie within their ranks. Played to perfection by Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick himself is many things: an aristocratic addict, a rakish and outr)ageously funny playboy, but he is also a man living as a victim of the sins of his parents (Hugo Weaving and Jennifer Jason Leigh). Based on the celebrated novels by Edward St Aubyn, this intelligent, beautifully told series, follows Patrick as he embarks on a harrowing yet humorous decades-spanning odyssey to come to terms with the effects of childhood trauma.
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Edward St Aubyn's five Patrick Melrose source novels have been loved and admired for years, and this is a rarity - a screen adaptation that perfectly captures the humour and the ambience, but also enhances the books.
In every department, this is a rarity when every part is outstanding and delivers a remarkable whole.
David Nicholls script is a masterclass in how to fillet but also expand the source material. Edward Berger's direction is fleet, spare and as sure as it is complex. The edit is perfection, and costume, set and attention to details sparkling - from the daisy wheel printing on the medicine bottle label to the period child's cowboy hat and sandals.
But it is the acting that is the shop window of all the skill on offer, and the standard of acting is quite extraordinary. Hugo Weaving (terrifying, yet oddly touching) and a bright and brittle Jennifer Jason Leigh are Patrick's parents from Hell, and Sebastian Maltz exquiisite and touching as the young Patrick. As the godfather from Hell Pip Torrens is snarky and superior, and Indira Varma, Holliday Grainger and Jessica Raine are three significant women in Patrick's life. Although telling contributions from Harriet Walter (Princess Margaret) and Anna Madeley (Mary) are not to be underrated either.
But the glory of it all is Benedict Cumberbatch as Patrick. As the best performance yet from the actor of his generation, this achievement is unparalleled. Worthy of all awards going, all the remarkable critical acclaim, this is a deeply personal and revealing portrayal that also shows there are still more depths of emotional and intellectual intelligence in his range yet to come.
To age, as in the books, from early 20's to late 40's is, technically, the hardest range to meet, but he does this beautifully. He takes this deeply abused and damaged car crash of a man from youthful drug binges to addiction, treatment and self destruction through to a hard won maturity and recovery of a sort with total commitment, a terriifying sense of danger and flaw, yet with charm, honour and the sense that there is a lovely person in there, if only....
It is a hard journey, but it is the journey of a life in all it's muck and mystery, and Cumberbatch brings to it not just a simplistic fascination of the awful, but the revelation of a deeply damaged soul whose tiny flame of heart and humanity still remains with him throughout his horrors, and just needs love and commitment to grow and overcome his damage.It is - finally - a story of hope and of love.
And, as such, is a form of human inspiration as much as technical and dramatic perfection. Just glorious - and breathtaking.
Unfortunately, I did saw some reviews of this series, and although everyone may have own opinion, I have some GENERAL comments:
1) "First 30 minutes that I've watched was a complete waste of my time. I stopped watching" - my comment: DON'T rate
the ENTIRE series based on FIRST 30 minutes(!) of it. It's COMPLETELY UNFAIR! If you are SO worried about your
precious time - watch a trailer before watching a movie. Plenty of them are available.
2) "Heroin addiction is shown laughable - like an actor overdosed on sugar candies (absolutely nothing else in this
review!) - my comment: if you are watching this movie just to see how heroin addiction was played - this is a wrong
movie for you. This movie is not about addiction. Yes, addiction is a big part of it, but it's not the main focus of the