Published Aug 31, 2020While David Wain's 2012 comedy Wanderlust caught a handful of solid laughs from its nudist colony cast, few films have really delved deep into the creases, folds and rolls of the human body for gravitas. Enter veteran TV director Tim Mielants, whose debut feature film Patrick demands we stare deep into the holes of humans to understand the holes within their psyches.
The film's titular Patrick (played with welcome subtlety by Kevin Janssens) is the groundskeeper of a bucolic nudist colony in Belgium, where balls and boobs and buttholes flow freely through the forest. (His hilarious signature look sees him Donald Ducking it in an unbuttoned silk dress shirt and a Tim Heidecker-esque bowl cut). While he mostly tries to lay low in the genitally open community, he's forced to go on a journey through the camp when his favourite hammer goes missing.
Through his journey, he uncovers an extreme power play for ownership of the naked paradise and reluctantly fights his way for what's right. The camp's colourful characters include a fully clothed but nakedly egotistical folk star (Jemaine Clement) and his neglected girlfriend (Hannah Hoekstra).
Having cut his teeth on shows like The Terror and Legion, Tim Mielants has mastered his ability to create tension with each frame. As a result, Patrick manages to carry a cinematic gravitas with each grainy shot of a dangling ball bag. As a result, its laughs are grounded in reality and provide the characters with emotional complexity. The result is a zany comedy that's thankfully more Yorgos Lanthimos than Jared Hess.
Fantasia International Film Festival is taking place online from August 20 to September 2. (Beta Cinema)