Terry McMahon / Ireland / 2014 / 102 mins
Terry McMahon compensates for a poor directorial debut in 2011 (Charlie Casanova) with an affecting drama about sexual awakening and schizophrenia. Every year on St. Patrick’s Day, also the birthday of the eponymous protagonist (Moe Dunford), Patrick and his mother Maura (Kerry Fox) head into Dublin for the fairground rides. After losing his virginity to the maternal Karen Prescott (Catherine Walker) on his 26th birthday, who quickly departs, an irate Maura convinces everyone that it’s best if Patrick believes she was a hallucination.
Dramatically a film of two halves, McMahon fumbles around with the introduction of these characters (who deliver frustratingly wonky performances throughout) but pulls it together with powerful second and third acts. Patrick undergoes intensive electroconvulsive therapy to zap the memory of Karen, which inevitably leaves him emotionally numb, and this descent into deception is what stirs anger and sympathy in an audience.
The inner-torments of Patrick during therapy, his guilty mother and the cold medical staff are also what engage us in the sensitive drama – but McMahon concludes with the rather hammy message that we all go a little crazy when it comes to love. It’s believable and brutal, censuring the idea of “treating” people with mental illnesses who struggle to maintain relationships, but never gets to tell us of these relationships at more meaningful levels.