Directed by: #RyanJamison
Written by: #RyanJamison
Also Patrick, the 2019 short film from writer-director Ryan Jamison, follows the titular character Patrick (also played by Jamison) and his group of friends as they attend a booze-and-hormone-fuelled high-school party. Set between the island-green of west coast Canada and the smoky, strobe-lit interiors of a house party, we witness what begins as a jovial and heavily intoxicated night out with friends turn abruptly into something far more dangerous.
Let me first admit my own bias to this piece. I was born and raised on the Canadian west coast, on an island which is a near picture-perfect match to the setting of Also Patrick. I have walked to similar parties along similar pine-tree-lined streets, and as a twenty three year old these experiences are still fresh in my memory. All of this is to say that despite my best efforts at being impartial to the film, I couldn’t help but feel a strong sense of home-sick nostalgia whenever the Canadian wilderness was beautifully captured on-screen.
Partly because of this, I found the first few minutes of this piece to be without a doubt the strongest. We open with two beautifully wide and ambitiously long tracking shots which make up the first four minutes of the film. These uncut sequences really help to familiarize us with Patrick and his frat boy friends, successfully landing us in the overpriced Nike High Tops of one of “The Boys”. Patrick’s place amongst the group as an uncomfortable outsider from the machismo trio is especially well-demonstrated through a drawn-out zoom in to Patrick’s ill-at-ease-face, which is caught between his three chest-puffing, likely cologne-drenched comrades.
With their arrival at the party, the film begins to falter slightly. Without the sweeping west-coast wide angles, we are forced to focus on the dialogue and delivery, which (for the most part) is the film’s weakest aspect. While the cinematography (by co-producer Josh Goodman) and direction are both still very strong, with creative use of lighting and bass-pounding music, we can’t help but focus on performances and dialogue that seem to be occupied more with appearing drunk than conveying any true intention. Characters we meet briefly in passing are out of place and lack any form of personal identity which would distinguish them from any of the other party goers excluding a handful of our leads. And while I understand that this was most likely an intentional decision to alienate the audience, similarly to how Patrick is socially excluded throughout the course of the party, it nevertheless leaves the majority of those party scenes without much depth.
However, the film’s self-reflecting and challenging finale rescues this sinking party boat. Despite the lack of overall character development of anyone other than Patrick, and the fact that most of the male dialogue feels like American Pie without a safe word, the film still respects us enough not to spoon feed a final moral message at the movie’s climax. We are instead asked to look back on the piece with a different perspective, questioning our previous assumptions, and in turn questioning the societal assumptions made during our teenage years.