Mark Duplass and Andy Freeman star in this low-key intelligent drama about friendship and loss. Paddleton review, brought to you by AboutFlick’s Mr T.
Director: Alex Lehmann
Review: Paddleton is a mature drama that tells the story of two friends Michael and Andy, whose lives are turned upside down when one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Together they embark on a road trip to buy prescription drugs that would enable him to end his life. The tagline on the poster reads ‘A Comedy of Dramatic Proportions’, which couldn’t be more far removed from what you feel after watching the film.
Produced by Duplass Brothers Productions, Paddleton stars Mark Duplass as the terminally ill Michael Thompson, who hides behind a veneer of composure but is terrified within. Ray Romano plays his friend and neighbour, Andy Freeman in one of the finest performances of his career yet. He is the perfect friend who is in denial over his friend’s health, and initially tries to sabotage the process of him ending his life. Together, they make pizza, watch old kung fu movies and play paddleton, a game that they made up. The two friends share great camaraderie, and you never doubt that they have been mates for a long time.
Director Alex Lehmann’s background in cinematography is evident, as he brings Santa Barbara County in California to life. The scenes shot indoors are also very organic, and makes you empathize with the characters even more. He chooses to keep the colours muted, adding to the sombre mood that the film propagates. The filmmaker foregoes exposition, and uses subtle contrasting scenes to emphasize emotions. One such example I can recall is when Andy is riding shotgun with Michael at the beginning of the road trip, but in the backseat towards the end when the tension between them is palpable.
Paddleton is a very personal story and you feel deeply connected to it, especially if you have ever lost someone close to you. It’s filled with poignant moments that feel natural, and not manufactured or melodramatic at all. There are awkward incidents, bad jokes, brief pauses and vulnerable moments – things we have all shared with our close mates. Despite working towards an inevitable conclusion, the film ends on a high and you end up with a smile on your face when the end credits roll in.
Rating: My rating for Paddleton is 4.5/5.
Who should watch this: If you like low-key intelligent dramas, you should watch Paddleton. You should also check out 50/50 (2011), The Fault In Our Stars (2014), I, Daniel Blake (2016), Nebraska (2013), Philomena (2013) and Anand (1971).