Paddleton Review: 2019’s Hidden Gem

Chris Beauchamp, Staff Reporter

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Netflix has been having a great variety of original content lately. Many of which, such as 2017’s “Mudbound” and 2018’s “Roma,” have gone on to earn high recognition for the widely-popular streaming service. Their latest original piece may have gone under the radar but fully deserves your attention. That piece is “Paddleton.”

Photo taken from Netflix website
Romano and Duplass portray misfit neighbors who also have a true bond and friendship. They were also credited as executive producers on the project.

It has its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and was released in February on Netflix. So, how was the film? Let’s talk about it.

“Paddleton,” tells the story of a friendship between two misfit neighbors: Alex (played by Ray Romano) and Michael (played by Mark Duplass). When Michael is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and Alex decide to go on a road trip and leave their jobs for a short period of time.

The performances from both Romano and Duplass are the strongest of the year thus far. Their friendship felt raw and natural. You will never once feel that the performers are merely speaking lines as they are having a natural conversation with one another and truly care for each other’s needs. Their performances are what keeps the viewers engaged throughout the entire runtime.

Photo taken from Netflix website
It is directed and written by Alexandre Lehmann. His most notable piece of work was 2016’s “Blue Jay.”

It holds a perfect tonal balance. It’s aware of when the characters could provide a moment of humor or emotional impact. When either moments are presented, they are shown smoothly and naturally throughout the narrative.

The dialogue is very cleverly crafted. The most fascinating thing I learned from researching this piece is that the script was only 20 pages long and the majority of the dialogue was acted improv. That being said, what we see on screen is dialogue that is very creative and is all coming from the performers that didn’t have a script throughout most of the production, which is something very tricky to pull off and was pulled off with class and style.

The one aspect I take issue with is that the ending could have gone on a bit longer. When the film ends, I do wish it would have expanded on where it was going. For where they left it, I appreciate it. However, I find myself wanting it to have continued and end up somewhere else as it wrapped up.

“Paddleton” is not only the most heartwarming piece of the year but the best that this year has presented thus far. It’s a funny, emotional, heartwarming and heartbreaking piece that holds strong lead performances and deserves your time and viewing.

“Paddleton” Rating: 9/10

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