Patricia Arquette's disturbing act of love in new series
Patricia Arquette has done it again. After blowing us away with her performance in "Escape to Dannemora", which bagged her a Golden Globe for best actress, I didn’t think she could top that. I was wrong.
Anyone who has seen her in "The Act", which won her a Primetime Emmy for outstanding supporting actress, will share my high-praise.
Arquette is utterly mesmerising as Dee Dee Blanchard. At first, she appears to be a doting and overprotective mother to Gypsy (Joey King). Gypsy is very sweet-natured. She is wheelchair-bound and is fed through a drip. And at night her mother hooks her up to a breathing apparatus.
Dee Dee also shaves Gypsy’s head. Clearly, Gypsy is a very sick teenager. Her mother mollycoddles her to the point where she isn’t allowed to eat anything sugary as Gypsy is told she is allergic to it.
Having moved to a new neighbourhood, Gypsy befriends Lacey (AnnaSophia Robb). In doing so, she becomes curious about most things, especially boys – and what it’s like to have that first kiss.
Meanwhile, Mel (Lacey’s mother, played by Chloë Sevigny), senses something amiss with Dee Dee. And her suspicions are not helped after she witnesses her stealing jewellery from a shop. Her behaviour towards Dee Dee becomes hostile. There is a scene where Dee Dee approaches her, while in the company of another neighbour, to borrow some butter, and Mel basically tells her to go to the shop. She also goes on to take a dig at her, saying: “Sooner or later, everybody knows everything about everyone in this neighbourhood.”
Red-faced after the encounter, Dee Dee is determined to make a more positive impression and ingratiates herself into the neighbourhood by throwing a party.
During this time, the cracks in her relationship with her daughter start showing. More so, after Gypsy realises that she isn’t allergic to sugar. And she starts to doubt her mother’s intentions and questions everything she’s been told. After all, she’s able to walk and enjoy sugary treats without suffering any negative reactions.
Arquette is captivating. She appears harmless with her timid demeanour when interacting with outsiders. Behind closed doors, she’s controlling and her interactions with Gypsy lean towards factitious disorder imposed on another.
It’s heartbreaking to watch Gypsy suppress her will to be a regular teenager to please her mum. Of course, those emotions translate into a dark act, when Gypsy tries to free herself of her mother’s oppressive treatment.
"The Act" is based on a true story. It is a compelling series, with viewers terribly conflicted by the emotional journey of the characters.
"The Act" airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Monday at 10.05pm.