23 February 2019 | fpcholcomb
Ordinary, honest, and worth your time
Paddleton is a simple movie. The story is contained, the cinematography plain, and the premise unoriginal. This is all clearly by design. The two main characters, played by Mark Duplass and Ray Romano, are weird, awkward people and they are always presented as they are, ordinary. They live in small apartments one on top of the other. They are single and work simple jobs. They have terrible diets and watch terrible movies. And one of them happens to be very ill.
While it may seem like a criticism for me to call this movie plain and unoriginal, it really is not. Paddleton is not a canvas for some artsy filmmaker to paint with. It is not excessively dramatized or colorful or whimsical. It is what it is, an honest character study of two people. Often the silver screen is reserved for the interesting and the bold, the odd and sometimes depraved, people that seem to merit attention. These two characters are not like that. They are tiny, seemingly insignificant, and each actor melts into their respective personalities. The relationship between the two feels honest and they come across as true friends on the screen. Not to take anything away from Mark Duplass, but Ray Romano really steals most of the scenes they have together. He plays an aging, banal, and single man scarily well.
There are some things I did not like, the music was a bit twee and contained mostly ethereal melodies and simple keys that did not always fit the tone of the accompanying scene. Some of the dialogue felt stilted. But really everything besides the two performances is just window dressing. This is a film about their relationship and the circumstance they must face together. The low budget feel works to focus the viewers attention on these two people, it makes it feel real.
We all have to face death in our lives, but we have each other to depend on.
Friendship is such a precious commodity that we often take for granted. It's the little things, like seeing each other on a commute to work, that become noticeable once gone. Paddleton pays homage to the beauty of ordinary life, and reminds us that this finite bit of time we have been given will eventually come to an end. It does not try to prescribe meaning it cannot possible know, it does not romanticize the process, it just is what it is, and in that way it becomes a worthwhile experience.