“Patient” is the operative word in the French thriller “Le Patient,” retitled “The Lost Patient” for North American Netflix release.
It takes forever to get going, seems to give away where it’s headed early on, and traffics in modestly tense moments, melodrama and the mysteries of hypnosis to such a degree that it’s never much more than a a mild mannered bore.
A young man, Thomas (Txomin Vergez) awakens from a coma three years after being the lone survivor in an attack that wiped out his family — mother, father and a cousin who was visiting.
Physical therapy is one part of what can bring him back. But it is his psychotherapist, Anna (Clotilde Hemse) who must probe his mind, lead him on hypnotic flashbacks to that day, to the life his family lived, its stresses and strains. Anna hints that he should talk to her before he is visited by the police.
Thomas has just one question he wants answered.
“Where is Laura,” (in French, with English subtitles, or dubbed)? She is his older sister (Rebecca Williams), glimpsed in theses memories of tense family dinners, spied on as Thomas saw her with her lover, another young woman.
A mysterious hooded figure haunts Thomas’s nightmares. Could he be a man his mother was taking lots of calls from, her lover? Could he be the killer, the one who knows where the gun that killed the Thomas’s family, ended up? Might he have wielded the knife that put Thomas in a coma?
Will he be the answer to “Where is Laura?”
Movies dabbling in studies and manipulations of the mind are always on shaky ground, as new research makes old depictions — Hitchcock’s Freudian “Spellbound” comes to mind — seem quaint and even daft.
Director Christophe Charrier, who co-wrote the script with Elodie Namer, focuses on the details Thomas remembers — the incessant barking from a neighbor’s dog, the testy exchanges at dinner, the way his sister hurt herself under stress (pounding her head on trees, the wall, etc.
The clues to where this is going are not obscure enough that we’re not two or three steps ahead of this all the way through it.
A few tense moments is all it manages, a mild twist or two is all they could come up with, and our patience winds up being the only thing truly tested by “The Lost Patient.”
Rating: TV-MA, violence, profanity
Cast: Txomin Vergez, Clotilde Hesme, Rebecca Williams, Audrey Dana, Alex Lawther and Stéphane Rideau
Credits: Directed by Christophe Charrier, scripted by Elodie Namer and Christophe Charrier. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:34