Paddleton, co-written and directed by Alex Lehmann, is one of the sweetest, most sincere looks at the true joy and impact of friendship. This film absolutely broke my heart, but it also took the time to fill it with such joyful feelings. In its own simple, understated way, it made an impact on my cold heart and reminded me why the friendships I have are so important to me. Let’s mosey on into my review now and find out what it is about Paddleton that makes it so special.
Michael – played by Mark Duplass – and Andy – played by Ray Romano – are two oddball friends who like any good friendship share in the simple things that bring a sense of comfort and happiness to both their lives. But when Michael is diagnosed with terminal cancer, the two embark on a journey that will change everything forever.
Friendship is… it’s one of the most integral and important things we have in our lives and in so many movies it’s such a significant element to the lives and stories of characters. In Paddleton, that element is beautifully handled and is the film’s primary theme. I can’t remember a time when I saw it used so well in conjunction with a story that is inevitably going to end in not only the characters in tears and broken-hearted but the audience as well. I knew from the outset that the journey I was embarking on with Paddeton would not be an easy one, but I did know it would be one that was also so worthwhile.
There are so many reasons for this and one of them is the bond between the film’s two leads. The honest and authentic feeling friendship that exists on the screen between Michael and Andy is something I don’t think is possible to not be in some way won over by and utterly captured by.
Why is that? Well, because there are little elements… little touchstones that exist within the friendship between the two that anyone can recognise and relate too. The long-standing jokes, the same conversations you can fully imagine the two having had over and over with one another, and just the open and honest way in which best friends talk too, and about one another. Before even fully having a grasp of who the characters were, I knew exactly the type of friendship they had and why it was so important to each of them.
Which is why when the film begins to explore its other theme; death… loss. The effect the film went onto have on me was increasingly more emotional and more engaging. What this film did was utterly shatter my heart and leave me in a puddle of tears. I cared so much for Michael and Andy. I understood them, I related to them and I simply wanted more of their friendship and their story.
Which brings me to what might be my only complaint with the film: there wasn’t enough of it. The film felt too rushed sometimes. I wanted it to slow down and extend out its runtime as much as possible. I’m sure it came down to the limitation of the budget, which is such a shame, because this film could have easily gone for 2-hours and I would have happily soaked up every second of it. So interestingly, my only complaint with the film was that there wasn’t enough of it for my greedy, masochistic heart.
Though what the truncated runtime never effected was the wonderful performances by Mark Duplass and Ray Romano. Duplass is someone I’ve come to expect an interesting performance from. Whether it’s ‘Creep’, ‘The One I Love’, ‘Blue Jay’ or any other example of his great work, I always know that what he’s going to deliver will garner some sort of potent emotional response from me. But what I didn’t see coming was the astonishingly beautiful work by Ray Romano. Outside of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ and ‘The Big Sick’, I’ve had very little, to no exposure of his acting, and so in Paddleton he absolutely floored me with a performance that now stands as one of my favourites of 2019.
He and Duplass play brilliantly off of one another and make the dynamic between Michael and Andy so much more than what it could have been. But Romano is the standout star from this film! There are a few scenes in particular that have stuck in my head and Romano is the dominating factor in all of them. I remember one moment vividly, which just absolutely breaks my heart every time I think about it. I know the praise and recognition for his work will more than likely be drowned out as the year goes on, but it’s a performance I intend to shine a spotlight on, every chance I get.
There’s so much that’s special about Paddleton, and one of the aspects of it that was particularly important to me was the opportunity it gave me to reflect on not only the friendships in my life and how much I treasure them, but also how much each one of them supported and helped me during one of the darkest times in my life when I lost the most important person in my life and it was in watching Paddleton that I was fully reminded of that… and it hit me so hard but also left me feeling happy at the fact I have such good people in my life.
Paddleton takes those themes of friendship and death and it blends them together into a story and journey for two characters that is incredibly moving and incredibly dignified in its look at the importance of one when dealing with the other – made all the more potent when the friendship that they both rely on is also the one so hugely effected by the inevitable passing of one of them. And the handling of those themes played a huge part in my own personal self-reflection.
Even now, as I write this review, I find myself holding back tears. Paddleton is a truly wonderful and heart-breaking little film that deserves a larger and more giving platform than the dumping ground of Netflix, but alas that seems to be the only place smaller films get their chance to exist these days; in the crowded noise of a platform that takes anything it can get and makes sure the actually good ones are lost in all the colours and the noise.
I’m of course going to recommend, Paddleton. Please watch this film! Please share it with people and let’s have more people aware of this special little film that has something beautifully hard to say and does it in a beautifully heartfelt and heart-breaking way. Load up Netflix immediately, push past all the nonsense and poorly executed original movies (which have such potential) and watch this film!
Thank you for stopping by and reading my review! If you liked my ramblings in written form, maybe you’ll also like them in audio form, so feel free to check out my podcast – ‘The Meandering Movie Podcast – which you can find on iTunes (https://apple.co/2FUkAhU) Soundcloud (https://bit.ly/2S4sMm6) and Castbox (https://bit.ly/2N7Z6zA) and updates in said podcast can be found on Twitter – @MeanderingPod. Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you liked what you read and will consider following me on this movie infused hobby of mine, that one day will hopefully evolve into something grander!