As a kid, I watched just about every episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents on “Nick at Night” with my mom. It was one her favorites. The thing that struck me most about that show was that sometimes the bad guy got away with it. The guy who faked his death to get the insurance money or the woman who killed a cheating husband didn’t get caught. Not all the time, but enough for me to notice. Even at an early age, I knew there was something was different about that idea. In every other TV show or movie I watched when I was young, the cop got his man and the villain got his comeuppance. But this idea was different.
I kept looking for that idea in other stories. It felt more real to me. Regular people do bad things. People are flawed and complicated; great and terrible. This is the story I set out to tell when I wrote A PATIENT MAN.
When does someone do the worst thing? What would drive a seemingly normal person to take another life? What happens when you play that tape through to the end? If someone were to commit murder, with the intention of getting away with it, how would they do it?
A PATIENT MAN is about loss and revenge. Our protagonist, Tom, is trying the figure out what to do with the rest of his life after experiencing a tragedy. He is dealing with the grief of losing someone he loved and the pain of infidelity. He can’t seem to reconcile the two. The infidelity clouds the memory of his wife that he is trying to preserve. He chooses to focus on holding someone responsible for her death rather than deal with the part he had to play in their unsuccessful marriage. He starts to see something sinister in her death that may or may not be there. Trying to right what he sees as a wrong is how he avoids feeling his grief and guilt.
This film is an exercise in the idea that people are more than one thing. How well do we really know someone? Tom goes through the motions of putting his life back together, but it is a disguise for his real intentions. He is dishonest with everyone we meet in the film. He meets a stranger on a train and though they become friends, they are both dishonest with each other. This new friend is holding on to a pretty dark secret of his own.
No person is all good or all bad. There is a tremendous amount of grey area to a human being.