Veronica (Mary Cruz) is sitting on a park bench, reading a book when she is beset upon by Patrick (Dameon Rhoades). Despite spurning his surprisingly amorous advances, as she has a boyfriend who coincidentally is named Pat, Veronica finds herself unable to rid herself of this persistent acquaintance. So, the two go for a walk.
How you interpret Tori Hayes’ short film, The Boy Called Patrick, will go a long way towards the eventual value you’ll place on it. An obvious statement, I know, but if you look at this film as being precisely what you see, a crude guy tenaciously hitting on a woman who is really not interested, then it’s not going to hold much for you. If you interpret it as a mental construct of the stages of a relationship, then perhaps there’s more to be gleaned from this story. And there are more ways you could take the film that would only compliment it as being a think piece.
But that’s being optimistic, and in truth, for much of the short’s duration, I was not thinking fondly of what I was seeing. The Patrick character is persistent in such a way as to set off “potential sexual predator” alarms. The interaction between Veronica and Patrick may be envisioned as playful, but in execution it’s actually abrasive and disturbing; this isn’t a meet-cute, it’s the opening of a Law & Order: SVU episode.
As the short goes on, this interaction evolves, sure, but the changes in the dynamic seem equally as drastic and confusing. By the film’s resolution, you’re grasping at a deeper meaning because there must be one, right? It can’t possible just be as cut-and-dry, and therefore unimpressive and unbelievable, as it seemed along the way?
So perhaps it means something else. Perhaps it is a study in relationship cycles, or an example of Veronica re-living her past, or fantasizing about a different present or future. Again, your willingness to give the short such extra consideration will potentially change how you feel, in the end, about the quality of the experience. For me, I think there’s probably something more to this, but I also think the execution is such that it doesn’t make embracing the film all that easy, or even rewarding. The message, if there is one, is muddled.
Having said that, the film employs text cards to set scenes as it moves along, and frankly these elements are not necessary. While the meaning of the short may remain mysterious for long stretches, it is not that challenging to follow what is going on as it happens. These text cards then just become signposts for the obvious.
Overall, while the short does have elements I appreciated (the sequence with the statues, for example, allowed for a more naturalistic tone and chemistry to form between our two characters), it mostly gave me a bad vibe. I had problems buying that anyone would be so rudely persistent with a complete stranger, as Patrick is with Veronica, and that anyone would sit and accept that behavior, as Veronica does. Once I was unable to suspend that disbelief in either direction, everything that came next was tainted, and the film never recovered my trust.
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