This five-part limited series based on the acclaimed novels by Edward St. Aubyn, tracks Patrick Melrose (Benedict Cumberbatch) from a privileged but deeply traumatic childhood in the South of France, through severe substance abuse in his twenties in New York and, ultimately, toward recovery back home in Britain.
The Melrose books are five of the finest of modern times. Short, sharp and endlessly enriching. For the TV adaptation to be so perfectly in synch with the tone and mood and truth of the books is beyond impressive. All components combine to form a complete and entrancing whole.
Superb direction by Edward Berger - that long tracking party shot in Ep 3 is of immense skill ans beauty - hits the subtly different style and heart and tone of each separate book, with the look of a Holbein painting and the unflinching eye of a Hockney. The result is exquisite and simply takes the breath away.
Design and period detail is mesmerising, even down to the Prozac label written on a daisywheel printer. Casting is sheer perfection. Mix the wonderful Pip Torrens with Indira Varma, Holliday Grainger Harriet Walter, Amanda Root and the cream of a British and American supporting cast, and a sensitive child actor in Sebastian Matz,with a chilling Hugo Weaving and a fabulous Jennifer Jason Leigh and any other show would be sublime in itself.
Add Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous Patrick Melrose and the whole series transcends into something far beyond sublime.
We are now used to seeing the actor of his generation taking complex and unique characters and making them deep and humane, but this takes performance to a different level and standard.
This is acting by inhabiting a role. This is acting at a dangerous level of self and self exposure far beyond mere performance; This is an acting consciously laying the soul on the line....and revealing that there is still more inside the heart of Benedict Cumberbatch to be revealed..
High intelligence,mordant wit, self knowledge and loathing, turning on a sixpence, great timing and awareness; not tricks, no weaknesses.. Whenever I watch a new Cumberbatch performance I marvel at his range and detail, physical and mental control, depth of understanding and even his eye placement. And this is what you get when heart, intellect and sheer technical skill combine with such fluent artistry. Something wondrous and joyous and with an indication that the tank is nowhere near empty, even when exposing his own soul like this.
How sad that there are people on here who are scoring this amazing series as a 1 and proud of their myopia. As the man said:' when someone puts you down, it is because they have a need to feel taller.'.
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