Paradise in Trouble

For those desperately searching for more cerebral fare than L.A.’s Finest, look no further and behold the dark pleasures of 2018’s PATRICK MELROSE, now on DVD from the folks at Acorn/RLJ Entertainment/SkyVision/Rachael Horovitz Productions/SHOWTIME/SunnyWatch/Two Cities Television/LiTTLE ISLAND.

A seemingly unfilmable subject, due to the title protagonist’s cons outweighing his pros (and the terrible reasons why), PATRICK MELROSE is a tribute to scripter David Nicholls, who brilliantly adapted the semi-autobiographical novels of author/journalist Edward St Aubyn.

Melrose, a rich, good looking, supposedly pampered member of the British aristocracy, is, in reality, a used, abused addict (sex, drugs and everything else), yearning for acceptance and escape from his lifelong lonely world.

True, he’s a shallow, awful person in so many ways (nearly as uncaring as his abusive father, who did shocking things to him, plus harnessed to a mother who could unabashedly love everyone EXCEPT her son), but, yet, you kinda want him to rise above it and finally find some sort of happiness with his wife and family (fleeting as it might be).

To call this an increasingly difficult task is an understatement, as most of the people he encounters from all walks of life (spanning the 1960s to the 1980s) are crap.

As indicated, we said it shouldn’t work, but it remarkably does, due to the way the series’ kaleidoscopic windmill of emotions spin forth, rusted-nail-centered to a plank of black comedic genius.  The dialog is dagger sharp, the direction (Edward Berger) spot-on, and the performances…to die for.

Star and co-producer Benedict Cumberbatch likely delivers his finest work (and that’s saying plenty), and is admirably supported by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hugo Weaving, Blythe Danner, Holliday Granger, Allison Williams, Celia Imrie, Anna Madeley, Sebastian Maltz, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Jessica Raine, Pip Torrens, Indira Varma, and Harriet Walter, who follow suit and give it their all.  Widescreen photography (James Friend) is exceptional, as is the score (Hauschka).

The Acorn DVD set (2 discs, 5 episodes) looks sensational, appended by a strong 5.1 surround track.  Extras include a short behind-the-scenes featurette and, an engrossing 36-page booklet.

A brittle snarkastic masterpiece, PATRICK MELROSE will have you quoting the venom-dipped bon mots often, and with relish.  And, yes, fellow Boomers, we are at the age where Jennifer Jason Leigh can realistically play Benedict Cumberbatch’s mother!

PATRICK MELROSE. Color. Widescreen [1.78:1, 16 x 9 anamorphic]; 5.1 stereo-surround. Acorn/RLJ Entertainment/SkyVision/Rachael Horovitz Productions/SHOWTIME/SunnyWatch/Two Cities Television/LiTTLE ISLAND. CAT # AMP-2730. SRP: $39.99.

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