A Patient Man
Stars: Jonathan Mangum, Tate Ellington, Ryan Scharoun, David Jahn, Elaine Loh, Kelsey Scott and Katie F. Ward
Director/Scriptwriter: Kevin Ward
Composer: Rob Houle
Cinematography: Harrison Reynolds
Rating: Unrated but could be PG 13
Running Length: 95 Minutes
“A Patient Man” begins slowly. As though you were looking at a table with puzzle pieces on it and trying to decide which piece to begin with. A choice is made…and we see a man on a bicycle, helmet and all, waiting for a stop light to change. Then, it is morning and the man is getting ready for work, bikes to the train station, enters with bike, and waits for his stop, ending up at his office. The pieces of the puzzle are starting to be put together and before the film is over, you have a scenario you didn’t expect.
“A Patient Man” is a quiet film. Like the peace one can have riding a bicycle alone at night in a quiet area, no distractions, only time too think. Life is really a routine, and the audience can get caught up in Tom’s routine of commute, work, commute. Jonathan Mangum (“Let’s Make A Deal”) plays Tom, the man on the bicycle. At first, it seems he is eco-friendly and into exercise by riding a bike. Then, through comments from office colleagues, you realize, he doesn’t want to drive because of a recent auto accident that killed his wife, Beth (Katie F. Ward from “Those Who Can’t”). Tom is a rising executive in his company and up for a promotion by his boss, George (David Jahn.) Tom has two friends at work, Rami (Amir Talai from “Marriage Story”) who is also a bicycle rider, and Maya (Elaine Loh from “All My Children”), who is somewhat of a busybody. Tom strikes up a conversation with another rider on the train, Aaron (Tate Ellington). At first, it is casual conversation, and then a friendship is started. In the meantime, a small air freshener hanging in the front window of a car brings a flashback to Tom, who is beginning to remember details of the car accident, including a confrontation with Katie. He consults a therapist (Kelsey Scott from “12 Years As A Slave.”) This helps, as does the suggestion by Rami to bicycle one night a week with a group of people from work. We see that all of this is helping Tom to remember, not only the accident, but what led up to the accident and small clues emerge for the audience to pick up on and start to piece together. Nothing is quite as it seems, like the puzzle one is putting together is actually of a different picture entirely.
Jonathan Mangum plays Tom as a man frozen in time. No expression, sparse conversation and fading into the background. The opposite is Elaine Loh’s portrayal of Maya, a co-worker, who is persistent. Tate Ellington’s Aaron is a man who looks meek and friendly at first, but is broken inside. David Jahn as Tom’s boss, George, doesn’t seem to know how to act with his employee who suffered a tragedy in his life. Kelsey Scott as the therapist, asks the right questions but is not getting answers.
Rob Houle’s music and Harrison Reynolds’ cinematography add to the story by being there but not obvious. I enjoyed following Tom in his daily routine. There are subtleties that appear. This adds to the mood of the film that begins with traveling to work and then starts to meander into another direction. The quietness of the film, especially the bike rides at night, can lull one into a sense of calm, and just as you have to be aware of objects hidden in the dark while riding, one must be aware of subtleties that are happening. All of this adds up to a film, that, when ending, leaves one with a gasp. Patience wins out in the end, we are told, but then, again, does it? Alfred Hitchcock would have had an answer, I’m sure.
Copyright 2020 Marie Asner