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3-min read

Paddleton Review: Tender Bromance Between Ray Romano and Mark Duplass is A Whiff of Fresh Air

Directed by Alex Lehmann, Paddleton is ‘I am the dying guy versus I am the other guy’ narrative with carefully sewn in pathos and humour.

Devasheesh Pandey | News18.com

Updated:February 23, 2019, 2:46 PM IST
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Paddleton Review: Tender Bromance Between Ray Romano and Mark Duplass is A Whiff of Fresh Air
Directed by Alex Lehmann, Paddleton is ‘I am the dying guy versus I am the other guy’ narrative with carefully sewn in pathos and humour.
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Paddleton

Cast: Mark Duplass, Ray Romano

Writer: Mark Duplass and Alex Lehmann

Director: Alex Lehmann

Life would have remained lonely fun games and routine, had it not been for the opening scene of Paddleton-- the latest Netflix original starring Ray Romano and Mark Duplass. It’s ‘I am the dying guy versus I am the other guy’ narrative with carefully sewn in pathos and humour.

Inside hospital, the voice of a nurse, who has come bearing bad news, precedes the corporeal body of Michael (Mark) and Andy (Ray), whose relationship is in question, later in the scene and throughout. Primacy is placed on the fact that there’s no escaping death. Now it is up to the director, Alex Lehmann, also the co-writer of the film with Mark, to make it endearing for us to witness the journey of these two socially awkward, T-shirt and cargo shorts wearing middle-age-blokes, plus the inevitable end, which we are already aware of. Credit goes out to him for doing a fairly decent job at it.

paddleton

Michael and Andy live in the suburbs of New York where existence, in general, is subdued. Withered trees, vast empty spaces and hauntingly silent mornings are just the cinematic translation of what goes into un-making life here. It’s a town where an average Joe would go, with his average-buddy-Joe, if they were to retire and just not be anymore. But as fate would have it, Michael is diagnosed with terminal cancer and ought to leave Andy alone, with his strange yet self-aware self.

Michael wants to die a better Michael as he is at the moment, not some drug addicted, feeble and unrecognisable Michael. He wants to buy medication that will kill him before cancer does and asks Andy to be a consenting party to this decision. Not anyone from his family, but Andy. Such is the bond they share.

Andy is the older one out of the two, a bit more sensible too. As his best buddy would have it, he willingly tags along in the euthanasia game with him, but realizes that it’s not easy for him helping kill his only source of love.

So he starts to delve into passive-aggressive behavior that he believes will knock some sense back into Michael regarding his death wish. He even buys himself a safe-box to hide Michael’s meds and denies him the combination, only until later when he knows that breaking off with a friend is something he can’t afford to do at a time like this, howsoever he himself is hurting deep inside. Andy is selfish for not wanting to be alone after Michael dies, but not to the point that he would leave Michael alone right before he does.

ray 2

The set-up is emotional and there’s un-communicated depth in friendship. Nowhere do we feel characters opening up to each other despite them being understanding and affectionate for each other. It’s the deep-seated fear inside each one, as is a norm amongst men—not to be weak, or at least don’t appear weak.

Andy is having sleepless nights just hearing his terminally ill friend getting worse downstairs, but he won’t be consumed by emotion. Rather he’ll break time with him making pizza, watching films, enacting scenes, playing board games, road trips and the whole humdrum of life, but will be stuck up when it comes to sharing mutual feelings of platonic love.

Ray shines as Andy. He is both subtle and nuanced with his facial ticks of disapproval and irritability. The body language is hunched, words are minimal and altogether capture mid-age crisis to its truest. Mark plays the guy who fears dying and yet has to come to terms with it, to his anxious and unsure best. He lets Ray take the spotlight while running the show from behind. After all, he is going to die but his friend will live still- therein lie the gravity of emotions.

Paddleton is the game that Michael and Andy have invented to pass their time together; Paddleton is the film you should watch on Netflix if you are in for some almost-will-break-you-down sentimental drama.

Stars- 2.5/5

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