‘The Patient’ on Hulu, with Steve Carell and Domhnall Gleeson, is pretty scary: NPR


Steve Carell plays Alan Strauss in Hulu the patient.

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Steve Carell plays Alan Strauss in Hulu the patient.

Susan Tenner / FX

A man wakes up lying on a bed. He looks confused, but finds his glasses on the table next to him and puts them down. Fully dressed, he rises, but when he takes a step, a rattling sound is heard. He looks down to find he is chained to the ground by his ankle. It is in a basement bedroom style with dark walls. There is a sliding glass door on one side of the room, but he does not have access to it. Small high windows on the other side, but he can’t reach them either. When he shouts for help, no one answers.

This is the beginning of the 10-episode series the patientfrom Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, creators Americans. The trapped man is Alan Strauss, the therapist, played by Steve Carell. When we soon learn (and as they reveal in the show’s teaser), he’s being held at the home of his patient, Sam Fortner (Domhnall Gleeson). Therapy can be about a lot of things, but Sam has a very specific problem that he needs help with: He’s a serial killer who wants to stop killing and finds it very difficult.

The elegance of this hypothesis, as well as the challenge, is that it may branch off in different directions, but they should all return to a simple set of possible outcomes. Alan will escape, be rescued, or voluntarily abandoned; Or stay there forever or die. Each option makes sense at least once or twice in the story, as Alan plots and struggles to survive in captivity. And every option seems impossible, too. For his part, Sam faces a similar bleak set of possible futures: keep killing or stop killing? Survive or die? Let Alan go or keep him prisoner until…what?

Steve Carell’s dramatic performances have never combined to the degree that his great talents would suggest. play michael scott the desk, He was capable of subtle nuance and emotion, controlled indicators of Michael’s pain and desire to communicate amid his pettiness and ignorance. But in the movie foxesin the series morning showand in other projects (maybe apart from family dramas beatiful boy, which didn’t make much of a splash), he never seemed to find quite the right dramatic role. It points to a great, human performance that is not fully revealed. It could be Alan Strauss.

Karel has a difficult task here: Alan is helpless in many ways, but he should not seem doomed. He is very intelligent and has some kind of power over his captor, but the fact remains that he is chained to the ground. Carell’s performance highlights the moments big and small, highlighting Alan’s intelligence and determination, while leaving room for his fear and grief at the idea that he might not go away alive.

There’s also a dark (very dark) comedic sense in the idea of ​​a serial killer deciding that, like everyone else with a problem, perhaps a cure might help. After all, isn’t a therapist the one who should help you no matter what shocking secrets you reveal? Alan reads his professional commitments reassuringly to Sam when doing so appears to be in the interest of his safety. He promises, for example, confidentiality in what Sam confessed to him, and promises to help as best he can. There is a clever ambiguity about whether any part of Alan’s commitment might be genuine, and the amount of almost uncontrollable terror that is directed at frequently repetitive scripts.

Alan is a man who desperately tries not to scream or panic, but also does not explode with righteous anger at someone who tried to help him and who rewarded him with imprisonment.

Over the course of these 10 episodes, we see flashbacks of Alan’s complex relationship with his adult children, particularly his son Ezra (Andrew Leeds). The whole family once belonged to a reform synagogue, where Alan’s wife Beth was a leader. But as an adult with a family of his own, Ezra converted to Orthodox Judaism, which strained his relationships with his parents. The relationship between Alan’s family story and his family, fortunately, is not clumsy and straightforward, but rather complicated. As a man in great danger, he wants to return to his family and yearns to return to a normal life. But his situation gives him plenty of time to think about the relationships he’ll get back into or leave behind, depending on how his story ends. His love for his family grows sharper and punctured as the danger grows, and his remorse grows as he wonders if he’ll ever have a chance to make up.

Fields and Weisberg introduce elements of fantasy as well as a flashback, especially as Alan begins to focus on his experiences with his own therapist, played by David Alan Greer. The story can be slippery and confusing – Alan’s mind wanders in his long time alone, and it’s not always clear if we’re seeing reality, fantasy, or flashback. However, in these episodes, most of which last about half an hour, this story remains censored, commented, and fun. And even with a limited visual sight, due to the time spent in the cellar, everything from doors to stairs to bags of fast food has been carefully thought out. It is wise to make Alan’s confinement site ominous and hopeful – a cellar with sliding glass doors on one side offers a permanent possibility of salvation.


Sam (Domhnall Gleeson) really hopes that Alan (Steve Carell) can overlook the unusual setting of his treatment.

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Sam (Domhnall Gleeson) really hopes that Alan (Steve Carell) can overlook the unusual setting of his treatment.

Susan Tenner / FX

Gleeson has the unenviable job of playing an irreplaceable character. How do you bring humanity to someone presented as a ruthless killer? And not just any killer, but someone who has a uniquely weird idea of ​​influencing positive change in themselves while terrorizing the person they think can help them. In Sam’s mind, his relationship with Alan is that of a therapist – a patient, although in Alan’s mind, it is perfectly understandable that he is a captive prisoner. However, at times, Alan seems to be trying a cure, and Sam seems to be trying to take advantage of it. However, the annoying question remains: treatment so what? treatment and then what?

the patient Thoughtful and animated in a very good drama, while being suspenseful and suspenseful like the best thrillers. Hulu presents the first two episodes on August 30, and follows one each week until late October. It’s a show that will make you wonder, over and over again, how he could come to a logical conclusion. But they have an end, and the end works. It would be wrong to say another word about it.

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