Patrick Melrose (Benedict Cumberbatch) is young, rich and drug dependant. Well he is when we first meet him anyway. Shifting across the range of his life, from boyhood to fatherhood. The nexus of his life is his fathers death. He can merge the past, the present and his hopeful future in a single stream. Manage the pain, reconcile the feelings and even find the core to his motivation for living. From the abuse metered out by his gifted father, the indifference handed him by his mother and the life annexed by drugs.
In the notes previously handed out about Melrose, it is noted that it is based on the works of upper class wordsmith Edward St Aubyn. He charted his own life and growing up in the series of books. Within the TV series, we are experiencing a single, deeply hurtful event and how that underlines the rest of a persons life. Every action has a reaction. Put simply. The series navigates this journey with deft touches, artful flare and some outstanding performances. Richly infusing the suffering of Melrose, without wandering off into melodrama. Director Edward Berger deserves ample credit for this. He seems to understand that star aside, performances is only one facet needing developing here. You see the film is really about narrating indifference and empathy. Indifference to emotional gravity and empathy when finally we and Melrose get to its core. It then allows the blackly comic touches to work and the complexity of abuse to unravel to the core. Melrose is not the best series on television but it is most certainly this years best.