Fantasia Review: ‘Patrick’ is a sweet story of coming into ones own.

There’s something to be said for being naked. Everyone knows it, but naturalists live it. They spend all their time naked, or nearly so, while living their lives. These are normal people with normal lives; they just live in the nude when they can.

Patrick is the story of a mild-mannered handyman who lives with his parents in a nudist campground. He’s content, if unambitious, to continue fixing things and, in his spare time, build beautiful handmade wooden furniture. Patrick is a wizard in his woodworking shop, where he feels at home.

And then his father, patriarch of his family and owner of the campsite, suddenly passes away. Suddenly he has unruly tenants to deal with, a lothario rock star as a guest, a sly developer trying to bully him into selling the campground, and worst of all: his hammer is missing.

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It’s not minimizing things to say that Patrick is immediately overwhelmed. The pressures of coping with grief for his father and the needs of the camp are too much; every molehill becomes a mountain, and he fixates on the lost hammer. You see, it’s one of a set, and they don’t make that model anymore.

It’s also not hyperbole to say that the search for the hammer has emotional stakes that match anything I’ve seen in a movie this year. Kevin Janssens plays Patrick with childlike innocence, with the naïveté of a man whose repressed emotional state has kept him living with his parents into his late 30s.

Patrick struggles to be what everyone needs him to be. Still, the only person he really connects with is Nathalie (played by Hannah Hoekstra), the girlfriend of the previously mentioned Lothario rock star Dustin (played by Flight of the Conchords own Jermaine Clement).

Kevin Janssens & Hannah Hoekstra in Patrick
Kevin Janssens & Hannah Hoekstra in Patrick

It would have been easy to let Clement’s character overshadow the entire cast, but instead, he’s held in the background, which lends his every interaction all the more weight. Clement is, by his standards, restrained, which also works well. Dustin is the most extroverted character in the film despite being one of the only ones present who is fully clothed most of the time.

You might be wondering about the nudity. Yes, most of the characters are nude most of the time. Director Tim Mielants and co-writer Benjamin Sprengers treat it in the best way possible, the same way that I imagine naturalists treat it: they effectively don’t address it. It’s just a thing that is. So, yes, you will see many breasts and many penises, but after the first five minutes or so, you won’t notice.

Patrick is a simple story about a man coming to grips with his new normal and whether he even wants it to be his new normal. It is sweet and poignant, with a fantastic central performance and a hilarious fight scene.

Naked, of course.

This is definitely one for your watch list.


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