Christophe Charrier's The Lost Patient is all mood, no bite. In the name of a tense atmosphere, all you get are characters who are ciphers. The movie purposefully keeps us on the outside and then asks us to suddenly engage with it during the climax. Its screenplay is packed with shallow ideas and conveniences that are merely deployed for shocks. The Lost Patient is nothing but a skeleton. There is no blood and meat here. Like Blackout, The Lost Patient too deals with a lead character who suffers from memory loss. But unlike Blackout, The Lost Patient is made with enough skill, and you can at least call it a film. Of course, that's a very low bar, but then Charrier's film is not so great either.
The patient in The Lost Patient is Thomas (Txomin Vergez), and it's his memory that he has lost here. He wakes up from a coma and struggles to remember exactly how his parents and a cousin got killed during a horrible rainy night three years ago. His sister is missing, which means she has either been kidnapped or is responsible for the murders. Perhaps, she is that mysterious figure in a black hoodie who we see in the beginning and who appears in front of Thomas in the hospital. But why would she want to take his brother's life? Maybe the killer is someone else. How about Anna (Clotilde Hesme), Thomas' psychiatrist? Can she be trusted?
These questions sound exciting and might lead you to believe that The Lost Patient has interesting things up its sleeves. Unfortunately, the film is a dud. Charrier heavily relies on the final twist to save his movie. But when it arrives, it doesn't hit us with the expected intensity. Instead, it first leaves you perplexed and then provokes laughter as you look in disbelief, wondering, "Is this all there is to this film?" The twist is not original, and other movies have used it better (I won't mention the names as that would lead to spoilers).
The thing about those other movies (the good ones, of course) is that they don't rely too much on the final reveal. They make us active observers and excite us throughout. The Lost Patient, though, seems weary, as if the story is forcing itself to move forward. Some will accept it in the name of "uneasiness," "slow burn," or "mood." I think the whole production is ostentatious.
A tense conversation at the dinner table is devoid of tension. There is no warmth in the scene where Thomas' mother goes through the family album. The black figure doesn't exude creepy vibes, and the whole film is lacking in the suspense department. The actors seem to be holding back and are not allowed to explode with fervor. Thomas regains his memory in the end, but The Lost Patient fails to attain any feeling or invoke the desired reactions from within us.
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