Release Date(s)2019 (January 10, 2022)
Studio(s)Savage Film (Anti-Worlds Releasing)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: B+
[Editor's Note: This is a REGION B-locked Blu-ray release.]
Patrick is the feature film debut from director Tim Mielants, who cut his teeth working on series like The Terror, Legion, and Peaky Blinders. While that’s an impressive body of work, and one that may create certain expectations, Mielants clearly follows his own muse. Patrick doesn’t merely subvert expectations; it confounds them. Even a description of the story can’t convey the experience of watching the film: Patrick (Kevin Janssens) is an intense but quiet man who lives with his elderly parents at the nudist campground that they own. After one of the hammers that he keeps in his meticulously organized workshop mysteriously disappears, he begins an obsessive hunt to locate it. When a tragedy threatens to overturn his sense of order, and the entire campground with it, his focus on the missing hammer intensifies, with unexpected results.
Patrick is a fascinating character, brought to vivid life by Janssen. He displays arguably autistic tendencies: social awkwardness, discomfort making eye contact, and anger over disruptions of routine. Yet that’s not really what Mielants and his co-writer Benjamin Sprengers had in mind. Patrick can’t accept loss, and doesn’t recognize that his need to find the hammer is a manifestation of his desire to bring back something else in his life that he has lost—even after another character helpfully spells that fact out for him. He needs to take his own journey to come to that realization.
The decision to set the story in a naturist camp is unusual, to say the least, but it’s an effective way to convey the vulnerabilities of all the characters. We get to see them with all of their weaknesses fully exposed—the abundant flaws in their bodies serve as a representation of the flaws in their personalities. This isn’t a Russ Meyer film filled with statuesque beauties, but rather a collection of normal bodily shapes and sizes that are easier to identify with—perhaps not what we might want to be, but closer to the reality of what most of us really are. That reality is most memorably expressed during a nude fight scene between Patrick and another character that comes off as Women in Love by way of Eastern Promises—it’s surprisingly brutal, a fact that is amplified by the naked bodies involved. We feel how exposed that they are.
The most interesting irony in Patrick is that the titular character is emotionally closed off from everyone else. He may be willing to bare his body to the world, but he won’t bare his soul to anyone. He wants to be left alone to live life his own way. His personal journey in the film doesn’t really take him anywhere different than where he began, but it does make him understand that he may need to open himself up to others. Just a little, but sometimes that’s enough.
Cinematographer Frank van den Eeden captured Patrick digitally with ARRI ALEXA Mini cameras with full frame 4:3 sensors, using Hawk V-Lite anamorphic lenses to achieve the 2:39:1 aspect ratio for its theatrical release. A few shots used a motorized Angenieux zoom lens, while the drone footage used Zenmuse lenses, both of which were cropped and processed in post to match the look of the Hawk lenses. There’s no information available regarding capture resolutions or the resolution used for the post-production work, but the 1080p image on this Blu-ray release is impressive. It's as sharp and detailed as it can be, with just an occasional touch of softness around the edges from the anamorphic lenses. It's also strongly contrasted, with deep black levels, and only a bit of noise in some of the darkest shots—van den Eeden clearly prioritized having pure blacks over increased shadow detail. (It doesn’t hurt that the disc was encoded by David Mackenzie at Fidelity in Motion, so compression artifacts are virtually nonexistent.) The color timing favors warm, golden hues, with bronzed flesh tones. It's a striking look—Patrick may surprise those who wouldn’t expect distinctive visuals in a film about a missing hammer at a nudist colony.
Audio is offered in Dutch 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, with removable English subtitles. The mix takes advantage of the wilderness setting, surrounding the viewer with the sounds of birds, insects, and the wind rustling through the leaves. There's even deep bass and dynamic impact during the unexpected fallout after the nude fight scene. (Now there's a sentence you don't see every day.) Both the dialogue and the music by Geert Hellings sound clear and distortion-free.
Anti-Worlds Releasing’s Region B Blu-ray release for Patrick is #10 in their line, and is a limited edition of 3,000 copies. It includes a 32-page booklet with essays by Wendy Idle and David Flint, as well as photographs and detailed technical information. There’s also a reversible insert with artwork based on the theatrical poster on one side, and a still of Patrick on the other. The following extras are included, all in HD:
- Audio Commentary with Tim Mielants and Benjamin Sprengers
- Making of Featurette (15:56)
- Interview with Director Tim Mielants (10:08)
- Interview with Producer Bart Van Langendonck (8:48)
- A Tale of Three Trailers: Original Version (2:03)
- A Tale of Three Trailers: Failed Attempt at a Lower Certificate (1:41)
- A Tale of Three Trailers: Successfully Censored Version (1:37)
- Funeral Music (1:39)
Mielants and Sprengers open their commentary by explaining the genesis of the story, and how they ended up working on the script for eight years. Mielants wanted to make a film set in a naturist camp but didn’t have a story to go with it, and Patrick was a character who they had tried to use in different stories, but he didn’t quite fit. Eventually, all of that was solved when they brought the character and the setting together. They give out technical information, and also note subtle references like framing that was inspired by No Country for Old Men, but they’re most interested in discussing Patrick himself. They’re especially happy that he really doesn’t have a big character arc in the film—he changes slightly, but he’s still primarily the same person at the end. The duo is pretty laid back and lapse into silence occasionally, but there’s still good stuff in this track.
The Making of Featurette includes interviews with Mielants, as well as actors Kevin Janssen and Jemaine Clement. It also features behind-the-scenes footage, including the shooting of a sequence that isn’t included in the final cut. Mielants gives more details about the inspiration for the story, and how the lack of ambition in the title character resulted in simplifying the narrative. He has high praise for Janssen, who gained nearly forty pounds in seven weeks to play the role. In the separate interview with Mielants, he discusses a variety of topics such as how working in television prepared him for feature work, the humor and the music in the film, and why he considers a nudist film to be a costume drama. In the interview with Bart Van Langendonck, he explains what attracts him to a project, what it was like getting Patrick off the ground, his favorite part about the making of it, and the reaction to the film. He makes the interesting point that costuming becomes oddly important to a nudist film, because the limited pieces of clothing end up defining the characters who wear them. A Tale of Three Trailers demonstrates the battles with the UK censors over what they would allow: the first is the original uncut version; the second cheekily uses black boxes to cover the nudity; and the third is the version that the censors finally accepted. Funeral Music is an extended version of the cue that Geert Hellings composed for the scattering of the ashes that occurs during the film.
Watching Patrick is an interesting experience, because the abundant nudity on display throughout the film seems quite commonplace by the end—which is kind of the point, as there’s nothing inherently remarkable about being naked. Yet the barriers between people exist with or without clothing, and Patrick is a thought-provoking look at the universal nature of the challenges inherent in all human interactions.
- Stephen Bjork