This film is a gentle prayer. Patrick's Day is the second feature from Terry McMahon after his very underappreciated film Charlie Casanova. This film, much like Casanova, revolves around the struggles of living with mental illness. With Patrick's Day, the film is centered on a charming, quite young man named Patrick. He is your typical mid-twenties young man, working part time at a local convenience store. He is a virgin and longing for a special someone to enter his life. He is also schizophrenic. Patrick gets lost on his annual birthday trip to the carnival with his mother Maura (played wonderfully by Kerry Fox) and winds up at a hotel where he meets the love of his life in Karen (Catherine Walker) a suicidal flight attendant who plans to take her life after one last hurrah as she throws herself at Patrick and takes his virginity. He falls head over heels for this woman, but their rendezvous is interrupted by his over-bearing mother. The film chronicles Patrick's relationship with his mother and his budding relationship with Karen. As the film progresses lines are blurred as the film is seen through the eyes of Patrick and his condition.
McMahon doesn't over dramatize schizophrenia, and I applaud his beautifully crafted script. He is a director with a keen sense for the human condition, and he understands that, at times, actions speak louder than words. His cast is phenomenal"”especially the performance from lead actor Moe Dunford. Here, Dunford plays Patrick to a T. He embodies him as a gentle soul who happens to have a mental illness. He doesn't over dramatize the character. I commend him for that. In the end, Patrick is the most sane character in the film and knows himself better than any of the other characters, which includes a great performance by Philip Jackson as a cop turned comedian, who helps Maura track down her missing son.
The only thing I found a bit distracting was the music selection, the classic Irish tunes didn't blend in with the films tone, and I found it a bit cheesy, which at times took me out of certain scenes. Having said that, Patrick's Day was my favorite film of SXSW, and I expect it to be picked up for wider distribution. It's a well crafted story of a young man's journey to find love and become a man.