The American actor Steve Carell is still best remembered as a comedian and for his roles in comedy series and films, although in recent years he has increasingly played serious, dramatic roles. For one such role in “Foxcatcher” he earned his only nomination for an Oscar so far, and his psychotherapist Alan Strauss in the dark psychothriller series created by Joel Fields and Joseph Weisberg was not at all laughable. Carell’s Strauss is a prominent Jewish psychotherapist in his early sixties who is still trying to come to terms with the recent death of his wife and is furious about falling out with his son who has converted to Orthodox Judaism.
But one day, Strauss will be kidnapped and imprisoned by one of the patients, a young man named Sam Fortner (Domhnall Gleeson, who somehow failed me for this role and did not sit well with me). He is actually a deranged serial killer, a complete psychopath who is trying to resist these murderous urges and has kidnapped his new psychotherapist so that he can try to cure him. Sam will clean up the doctor in the room of the house where he lives with his mother, and the sessions will begin, during which Alan will have to show everything he knows. Sam expects results from Alan practically overnight and is convinced that he has a kind of magic wand that can cure him of this psychopathy, sick urges to kill all those who resent him even in the most banal way.
And during the imprisonment, Alan will have time to think not only how to get out of that completely hopeless situation, but also about his life. He will re-examine his relationship with his daughter, especially with his estranged son, whom he partly blamed for the death of his wife. At the same time, he will try to find a solution to Sam’s problems even though he is aware that it is almost unsolvable and no matter what he manages to do, it is very likely that he will end up there without making peace with his son. As Alan is still a psychotherapist, he will delve into his own past and subconscious, try to analyze key moments and situations in his life, and question his actions, trying to find out how much he is to blame for what happened to him.
The author duo Fields – Weisberg acted wisely in that the ten episodes of “The Patient” have almost a sitcom duration of 20 to 30 minutes, although it still seems a bit stretched, at times repetitive and perhaps it would work more effectively as a two-hour film. While Carell is excellent and the older he gets, the more serious, dramatic roles seem to suit him better, Gleeson somehow didn’t sit well with me as a psychopathic killer who can’t be controlled. Thematically, the classic suspense thriller is solidly combined with a character study not only of the killer, but also of his psychotherapist, but the problem is that after a while it becomes a bit tiring, especially since you can guess how it could all end.