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  • Series Premiere Date: May 12, 2018
Patrick Melrose Image
Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics What's this?

User Score
5.9

Mixed or average reviews- based on 160 Ratings

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  • Summary: The five-episode limited series based on the novels by Edward St. Aubyn spans several decades of Patrick Melrose's (Benedict Cumberbatch) life that included physical abuse from his father (Hugo Weaving), a mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who did nothing to stop it, alcoholism, drug addiction,The five-episode limited series based on the novels by Edward St. Aubyn spans several decades of Patrick Melrose's (Benedict Cumberbatch) life that included physical abuse from his father (Hugo Weaving), a mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who did nothing to stop it, alcoholism, drug addiction, recovery, marriage, and fatherhood. Expand
  • Genre(s): Drama, Movie/Mini-Series

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Melanie McFarland
    May 14, 2018
    100
    To be honest, it’s also not the easiest viewing experience, especially if you lack awareness of the depths to which Cumberbatch and St. Aubyn push Patrick. Watching Cumberbatch race through so many character shades proves dizzying in that first hour. But in return, subsequent episodes allow the viewer to appreciate his periods of steadiness and calm. ... Nicholls makes optimal use of St. Aubyn’s silvery language throughout the script. Edward Berger’s direction and James Friend’s cinematography ensure the visual experience speaks as loudly and purposefully as the people in Patrick’s world.
  2. Reviewed by: Sonia Saraiya
    May 10, 2018
    90
    Anchored by Cumberbatch’s performance, the miniseries is remarkably neither too long nor too short.
  3. Reviewed by: Ira Madison III
    May 11, 2018
    90
    While we’ve certainly seen stories that satirize society’s upper class and upend their addiction to manners to great comic effect, this series hinges on a dazzling performance by Cumberbatch that reminds us why he’s become one of the internet’s most obsessive riddles of the past eight years.
  4. Reviewed by: Kelly Lawler
    May 9, 2018
    88
    Patrick's life may be in shambles, but the series manages to assemble its disparate pieces into something deeply beautiful. It might just be powerful enough for Cumberbatch's notoriously spirited fan base to forget all about Sherlock and Strange. Maybe.
  5. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    May 9, 2018
    80
    The series as a whole is not without its flaws, but it’s definitely worth watching for what Cumberbatch brings to it.
  6. Reviewed by: Joseph Falcone
    May 14, 2018
    70
    Under the guidance of Cumberbatch, who serves as executive producer, Nicholls’ translation is a surprisingly positive endeavour, combating the inherent bleakness and social commentary of Aubyn’s stern prose with black comedy and an unceasing desire to better one’s self. ... There’s just too much to unpack in a mere handful of hours--simply put.
  7. Reviewed by: Glenn Garvin
    May 12, 2018
    30
    Unless you have a mysterious fascination with ravaged children or junkies coming apart at the seams, this show is best avoided.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 17
  2. Negative: 2 out of 17
  1. Nov 8, 2018
    10
    Drug addiction is notoriously hard to film in a way that conveys both its terrors and its allure. In the first episode, PATRICK MELROSE failsDrug addiction is notoriously hard to film in a way that conveys both its terrors and its allure. In the first episode, PATRICK MELROSE fails badly, substituting OTT histrionics for the desperate, surreal rhythms of addiction. I almost stopped watching after a couple lines of cocaine turned crawling-on-the-floor Patrick into a fast-motion Oscar Wilde, but I'm very glad I didn't because the rest of the series is flat-out brilliant, so good that I can take points off for the first episode and still award a "10" for the series.

    Most of the time, TV treats child abuse in a really simplistic way. It happens, it's terrible, but the hero cop or doctor or lawyer puts a stop to it, punishes the perpetrator, rescues the child, and we all feel better. TV doesn't usually plumb the depth of that trauma or explore how it continues to deform the lives of the victims--and the lives of the people around them. PATRICK MELROSE does, and it does so with scorching honesty, wit, and deep (but unsentimental) compassion. Moving back and forth in time, each episode reveals another dimension of this brilliant, damaged man, and it's in that revelation, not the scenery-chewing at the beginning, that Cumberbatch really shines.

    The series might sound grim and earnest, but it's not. It helps that Patrick is very funny, but the primary momentum comes from the mystery at the heart of the series: what, exactly, did the members of this family do to each other? The writing, acting, and (especially) the directing are so skilled that I really cared about the answer--and about whether Patrick would be trapped by his history or able to wrench at least part of himself free. Probably the best series I have watched this year.
    Expand
  2. May 22, 2018
    10
    Cumberbatch does it again. What else is there to say? I will never stop watching his work because he is honestly batting a thousand
  3. lug
    May 13, 2018
    10
    Truly enjoyed this opening episode. Roller coaster of emotions is probably best description of Cumberbatch's portrayal of Melrose. Having readTruly enjoyed this opening episode. Roller coaster of emotions is probably best description of Cumberbatch's portrayal of Melrose. Having read the books I was not upset that some aspects were not covered or were left out. Wonderful job by screenplay writer to bring to life the essence of the story. Cannot wait for the rest of the series. Cumberbatch is simply stunning in the part and gives 110% to it!!! Bravo!! Expand
  4. Nov 15, 2018
    9
    This is the excellent picture that started with a vortex tempo and ended with a big hope. I can named this in one sentence - Could the manThis is the excellent picture that started with a vortex tempo and ended with a big hope. I can named this in one sentence - Could the man survive and don't sink to the very bottom in self-destruction after a heavy childhood and its "high" lights of society? Expand
  5. Jun 14, 2018
    8
    Another great performance from Mr. Cumberbatch. The darker and seamier side of the idle rich in Britain. It's a hard slog due to the mainAnother great performance from Mr. Cumberbatch. The darker and seamier side of the idle rich in Britain. It's a hard slog due to the main character's consistent inability to rise even half way out of his self loathing and self pity. I understand that the real character was even more unlikable. Victims of horrific childhoods do have options, and it is an uphill battle, but when you opt for brain altering drugs the decks are stacked. Expand
  6. Nov 20, 2018
    7
    Directed by Edward Berger, and written for the screen by David Nicholls, this five-part miniseries is based on the semi-autobiographicalDirected by Edward Berger, and written for the screen by David Nicholls, this five-part miniseries is based on the semi-autobiographical Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn. Published between 1992 and 2011, the five novels were essentially part of St Aubyn's rehabilitation, as he battled a crippling series of addictions stemming from sexual abuse at the hands of his father when he was a child. The series has its flaws, but his fearless portrayal of the various stages of addiction and recovery is good enough to paper over (most of) the cracks.

    Although the show's first episode does initially present Patrick's drug-addled behaviour as (relatively) funny (the scene where the Quaaludes kick in is especially hilarious), as the narrative settles into a darker vibe, most of the comedy is scaled back. Indeed, this well-balanced duality carries across all five episodes. Patrick knows the damage drugs are doing to him, yet he never loses his sense of caustic sarcasm about who he is. On the other hand, the show never strays into outright comedy at the expense of narrative believability – no matter how funny an individual moment may be, the totality, we are never allowed to forget, is rather bleak. Patrick is a fun character, articulate, intelligent, self-aware, but he is also a mess, and both his acerbic wit and his chemical dependency are at their height in this first episode. With that in mind, it is both the funniest and the darkest of the five; both a genuinely humorous physical comedy about the foibles of drug addiction and a horrifying descent into drug-induced psychosis.

    Each episode is grounded in a different genre, adopting the appropriate tone for that genre, and featuring a different colour palette from the others. "Bad News" is a yuppie version of Trainspotting, a dark night of the soul awash in non-diegetic purples and greens; "Never Mind" is a lurid, lazy summer retreat, similar in design to something like Call Me By Your Name, with a preponderance of deep yellows and reds; "Some Hope" is an Upstairs, Downstairs/Gosford Park-style comedy of manners, examining the ludicrousness of the class system, limiting the palette to mainly binary colours such as white and black; "Mother's Milk" is partly a fish-out-of-water story and partly a psychosexual intellectual drama; and "At Last" is a cold postmodern tragedy full of angst and unlooked-for self-discovery, dominated by metallics, greys, and blues. What Berger pulls off across these five hours is to force this compendium of different styles, themes, and tones into something resembling a cohesive artistic statement.

    The show employs a number of stylistic devices to draw us into Patrick's interiority – dialogue only Patrick and the audience can hear, unnatural lighting changes corresponding to his mood, glitches in the actual picture of the show itself in sync with his psychotic breaks, the bleeding of the past into the present (a room in the present will remind him of a room in the past, and suddenly he'll be there; a lizard walking on the wall when he was first raped by David is a recurring motif throughout the show; he opens a door in 1982, and we cut to him standing in an open doorway in 1967).

    Perhaps the show's most salient theme is the idea that when you deeply hurt a child, when you do something to damage a child's very soul, the effects will continue to be felt by any who come into contact with that child for many years after the fact. As is alluded to throughout the first episode, and as becomes painfully clear in the second, when he was a child, Patrick was completely at the mercy of an utter monster. After David calls young Patrick to his room, there is a shot of the perfectly-made bed. After Patrick leaves, however, there is a shot of the bed in disarray. We never see what happens, because we don't need to. This is as well-directed a bit of cinematic shorthand as you're likely to see.

    Another important theme is a mockery of the aristocracy, who are shown to be humourless, vainglorious prigs. The show depicts a decadent, toxic, emotionally calcified, and morally bankrupt class of people belonging to another age, that has somehow lingered into modernity and is desperately holding on to its outdated traditions.

    Of course, this also raises perhaps one of the most obvious objections to the show – "why should we care?" Well, in part, we shouldn't. Essentially, this is the story of a spoiled rich kid. It's the very definition of white male privilege, which isn't exactly a very sympathetic theme at the moment. And it never really manages to shake that identifying characteristic. But there is more to it than that. For the themes, for the humour, for what it says about the British peerage, and, especially, for Benedict Cumberbatch's performance, this is certainly worth checking out, as it remains always compelling – brilliantly acted, and with a lot to say about a myriad of issues.
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  7. Jul 23, 2018
    0
    It is mind-boggling how this show gets virtually every aspect of heroin addiction so completely and laughably wrong. It's like whoever wroteIt is mind-boggling how this show gets virtually every aspect of heroin addiction so completely and laughably wrong. It's like whoever wrote it was thinking to himself "Well, as a kid I ate too much candy a couple of times and then I got a sugar-high, so I guess I can already totally relate to what a heroin addict is going through and therefore I won't have to do any additional research whatsoever." And I'm not being hyperbolic, this is the worst, most unrealistic and nonsensical depiction of a junkie I have ever seen, period. Expand

See all 17 User Reviews

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