- BOTTOM LINE
- A Slice Of Life That Is Boring In Parts
What is the Story about?
Michael (Mark Duplass) and Andy (Ray Romano) are neighbours. An unlikely friendship develops between these two middle-aged guys that come across as more than being just friends. What happens when Michael is diagnosed with cancer at a very late stage, and there is no cure for it?
Peddleton has only two leads, and the entire film revolves around them. Mark Duplass and Ray Romano essay those roles. They are perfect for the parts and are entirely believable is creating the ‘bromance’ that is so essential for the movie to work.
While both the actors are essential narrative-wise, Ray Romano is the one who carries the symbolic weight of the meaning of the title and the theme. It is through his character that the viewer has to feel the pain of loneliness and eventually to move on. Ray Romano does an excellent job in conveying those emotions without going overboard in an exaggerated sense. The final few minutes feel heartbreaking without ever getting into over-action which could have been easily the case with a lesser actor.
Mark Duplass is the one diagnosed with cancer. One kind of expects the arc that he is going to get along with the moments. It is what he gets, but the beauty lies in presenting it freshly. It helps that a few situations avoid the clichés too. The chemistry he shares with his co-actor is also amazing. To make it feel organic and not rehearsed is a challenge and Mark Duplass passed with flying colours. The climax moment is sure to make the eyes moist if one gets connected to the proceedings.
Direction By Alex Lehmann?
Alex Lehmann directs Paddleton. It is a simple and straightforward tale of two individuals who happen to be neighbours. Fate has a cruel twist with one of them diagnosed by cancer that is final stages and incurable. It is as simple as that, and still, the director manages to hold attention until the end.
As is the case with numerous films that are thin on story, the screenplay, writing and performances have to be tight. They have to be at their best and gripping from the word go or for the most part, for the movie to work, and that is precisely what we get from the director and writer team of Alex Lehmann and Mark Duplass. Yes, the actor also gets credits for writing the movie which makes it even more special for him.
Paddleton opens with the diagnosis, and we get straight to the point without any beating around the bush. The opening also establishes the tone and characters of the film accurately. Alex Lehmann avoids milking of the drama in a typical sense. It is there, but not in a predictable fashion. The characters are just let to react, and that is captured.
The spaces the characters occupy are the very ordinary and mundane ones. It is highlighted brilliantly through a series of sequences and a “Kung-fu” movie the characters watch. The latter’s conjecture with the narrative is brilliantly thought out and finally ends with a good pay-off. There is another similar thread with a t-shirt. Then there is the “Paddleton” itself. There is an undercurrent theme of friendship that merely is friendship, and there is nothing more between two guys. It is something that is getting rarely portrayed these days which gives it a charming and beautiful touch, adding an enticing layer to the overall proceedings.
However, not all work out that way. The road trip, the sequences at the motel with the lady, for example, doesn’t add much. There are also some conversations which feel tiresome. It comes across as just display of the “character action” with no real progress in narrative and emotional involvement.
Overall, Paddleton, despite a few shortcomings is a worthwhile effort and watch. The sincerity with which it is made and acted can’t be doubted. Does it bore? Yes, it does in parts, but that could be overlooked in the larger scheme of things and final impression and emotional immersion it manages to achieve.
As mentioned-above, Paddington is really about the two main characters only. The rest are the people they meet, and among them, just the lady playing the motel owner has an extended scene. It isn’t particularly memorable and is part of the narrative that feels serviceable at best.
Music and other departments?
Technically, the film is well made, even though on a low budget. The background score by Julian Wass is beautiful. It adds to the overall feel and tone. There are largely silences, but whenever the music punctuates it, it registers without being overbearing. The cinematography by Nathan M Miller is neat. The writing is superb, and it holds the film together along with the acting.
Not Too Melodramatic
A Feeling Of Monotony (intended or otherwise)
Not Enough Bite
Did I enjoy it?
Yes for the most part
Will you recommend it?
Yes, but with reservations
Paddleton Review by Siddhartha Toleti