Samuel L. Jackson is sensational as a dementia patient in this gripping drama.
This recap of the Apple TV+ series The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey season 1, episode 1 contains spoilers.
Dementia is a tricky subject to address, you either come across as over-sentimental or needlessly stereotype the illness. A handful of films have managed to bring authenticity to the disease and The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey does an expert job of shedding light on this modern-day pandemic. Walter Mosley adapts his own 2010 book, focusing on an old, lonely man suffering from a rapidly declining case of this awful illness. Samuel L. Jackson plays the titular character, Ptolemy Grey, in an inspiring turn.
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey season 1, episode 1 recap
Ptolemy is forgetful, anxious, and plagued with visions. His memories are either completely lost, sporadic or so vivid that they appear as an actuality. Samuel L. Jackson is sublime as this funny yet fragile man, afflicted with memory loss and quickly losing his grip on reality. Jackson and the creative team should be applauded for this realistic and thoughtful portrayal of dementia. Talking from a personal level, it is accurate and important work.
A family member called Reggie is Ptolemy’s only friend and carer, he makes sure that Ptolemy is fed and kept safe. Their bond is touching, Reggie treats him with respect and appears guilt-stricken whenever he has to leave his great-uncle alone in the flat. A doctor recommends that Ptolemy meets with a specialist called Dr Rubin and Reggie organises an appointment. Whilst returning from the hospital, Ptolemy sees visions of past acquaintances and is nearly ran over, rushing across the road to his imaginary friend. Then he sees a past lover and strokes an outraged stranger’s arm. Ptolemy is a liability, which makes for a tough and emotional watch.
Later, Ptolemy is visited by Hilliard, another family member. Hilliard is the complete opposite of Reggie, he’s disrespectful and impatient, annoyed by Ptolemy’s confused antics. He takes him to the bank and then to a funeral. In these moments, director Ramin Bahrani explores some smart depictions of prejudice. Creator Walter Mosley quickly subverts expectations on racism in two contrasting scenes. Then at the funeral it becomes evident who this wake is actually for and Ptolemy breaks down in another powerful performance from the legendary actor. He’s lost his only friend and swears revenge.
This Apple TV+ original is a noteworthy and powerful drama, led by a magnificent Samuel L. Jackson. The Hollywood star has delivered one of his best performances as the lovable Ptolemy. From the premiere, this looks set to be an emotional six-part series that represents both race and dementia in a significant way.
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