The Final Days of Ptolemy Gray evaluate: An emotive exploration of reminiscence

Samuel L. Jackson’s streaming debut is touching, but considerably missing in thriller and suspense


9 March 2022

Ptolemy Gray (Samuel L. Jackson) has superior dementia, however a brand new drug adjustments all the things

Hopper Stone/Apple TV+

The Final Days of Ptolemy Gray

Walter Mosley

Apple TV+

“I GOT to set issues proper,” says Ptolemy Gray, Samuel L. Jackson’s newest display screen incarnation. He talks right into a tape recorder whereas loading a bullet supposed for the person banging on his residence door. “That motherfucker acquired to pay for what he’s executed.” The Final Days of Ptolemy Gray‘s opening scene may have been lifted from a belated Pulp Fiction spin-off, revisiting Jackson’s foul-mouthed, fast-food-obsessed, gun-toting hitman Jules Winnfield practically three many years on.

Then the motion flashes again to only two months earlier. Now we see Ptolemy as a dishevelled, confused 93-year-old residing on tinned sausages and beans in a cockroach-infested flat. Common visits from his kindly great-nephew Reggie (Omar Benson Miller) are his solely respite.

This six-part drama, tailored by Walter Mosley from his 2010 novel of the identical title, begins by portray a heartbreakingly convincing image of a person with his mundane daily routines are interspersed with visions of his beloved late spouse and sometimes horrifying flashbacks from his childhood within the Deep South.

The story takes a flip for the fantastical when Ptolemy discovers he’s eligible for a brand new drug trial that can restore his memories in crystal-clear detail. The catch is that it’s a momentary repair and can worsen his situation in the long term.

Regardless of this apparent downside, Ptolemy jumps on the likelihood to enroll, having found that what he thought was a celebration was really Reggie’s funeral. He wants his thoughts again to seek out out who’s accountable for Reggie’s loss of life.

It’s an intriguing set-up, however one which Mosley fails to capitalise on. Ptolemy’s newbie sleuthing isn’t partaking, and the perpetrator is ultimately revealed so casually that it barely registers. A gripping whodunnit this isn’t, maybe surprisingly contemplating that Mosley constructed his fame on his novels concerning the hard-boiled detective Simple Rawlins.

The collection works a lot better as a meditation on memories, consciousness and the passing of time. Ptolemy enjoys studying how issues like hip-hop and the web have progressed throughout his cognitive decline.

However as he tells Dr. Rubin (Walton Goggins), who’s working the drug trial, some things are forgotten for a reason. Remembering components of his traumatic childhood beneath racial segregation solves just a few mysteries, but in addition will increase his night time terrors. And as Ptolemy will get nearer to the reality about his great-nephew, he finds it tougher to regulate the reactions that may have stayed buried along with his reminiscences.

Jackson, giving his first on-screen lead efficiency in TV’s new golden age, seems to relish flexing his performing muscle tissues a little bit tougher than he has of late. By some spectacular ageing and de-ageing make-up, he will get to painting Ptolemy throughout a half-century of his life, giving his character’s shifts between degeneration and regeneration an emotional resonance that has been missing in a few of his current big-screen work.

Recent from her BAFTA-nominated function in Judas and the Black Messiah, Dominique Fishback additionally impresses as teenage orphan Robyn, the one different member of Ptolemy’s circle who sees him as an individual somewhat than an inconvenience. Their touching, platonic relationship is way extra partaking than any of the a number of romantic subplots.

However even this robust central pairing isn’t fairly sufficient to compensate for an unfocused and underwhelming narrative. Satirically, for a drama about the power of memory, The Final Days of Ptolemy Gray is unlikely to go away an enduring impression.

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