Reviews - Patrick
Reviewed By Ian Payne
For those that did make the effort, they were awarded with an absolute gem.
Set in a naturist camp site in the forested south of Belgium, the story centres on the eponymous Patrick, son of Rudy the site owner. Rudy is in failing health and seemingly locked in a joyless battle with the regular visitors to the site, led by Herman. Herman is an absurd little man, fond of quoting rules and regulations, his obvious vanity (as witnessed by his dyed black hair) and self-importance totally undermined by his nakedness.
Patrick is the site's handyman and a superb carpenter. Aged 38 he is shy and tends to shun contact with the visitors (with the exception of Herman's wife, who seemingly trades jam for sexual favours) and is clearly OCD. His workshop is immaculate with a place for everything and everything in its place. Except that it is not – one of Patrick's precious hammers is missing. The gap on the wall where it should sit takes on an even greater significance than the gap in his life after the sudden death of his father.
Patrick's single-minded search for his hammer combined with the power vacuum at the site after Rudy's death are the backdrop for a black comedy of human failings and frailties. It is only when Patrick can come to terms with his losses that life can move on.
This could never have been a British film, the temptation to move into Carry on Camping territory would have been too great. The nakedness on show was not there for titillation – it underpinned the absurdity of the relationships of the characters and provided a layer of comedy in its own right. The sight of four elderly, Belgian men, naked apart from socks and shoes, playing boules is one that will keep me chuckling in these gloomy months ahead.
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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.
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