Spring binge watch: Patriot

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I watched this dreary, arty, self-conscious and beautifully photographed series on Amazon over the past month or two.  It is 8 hour-long episodes but seems longer.  I fell asleep several times.   Variety harshed it completely.  Critics label it a rip-off of the Coen Brothers shtick. I’m not sure I see that.  I see that it’s kind of there but I didn’t like the Coen Brothers output so much that it takes away from the originality of this show.  The show is original.  It’s just a one-joke story with some gratuitous violence thrown in on occasion, some largely undeveloped characters other than the central few, a Maltese Falcon MacGuffin that wanders through the plot, and a conclusion that begs sequel.

The show is about an all-American midwestern assassin with a Dad with Oliver North ambitions.  Father and son are psychopaths, Dad a cheerful one and son more sombre.  There is also a kid brother with a conscience.  The opening credits show a pair of rowdy boys doing various Americana-level boy things like jumping off swings, riding sheep, flinging rocks with slingshots, riding motorcycles, smoking and firing a rifle.  There is no backstory for the transition from adolescence to assassin, but some kind of military career is assumed.

I wanted to like this more and there were some surprising and nice unfoldings of characters, but by and large the artistic range was thin.  This film is blues and jazz, and I’d recommend it as a detour for viewers who like pretty jazzy things and don’t mind the lack of plot.

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