When contemplating the subject of dying, Michael (Mark Duplass) can muster little else than “eh.” “Paddleton,” and its gestures toward hushed profundity, might evoke much the same reaction from audiences.
Before receiving a cancer diagnosis, Michael spent the bulk of his time with his best friend, Andy (Ray Romano), doing puzzles, playing a squash-like game called “Paddleton,” and watching the same kung fu movie repeatedly. The diagnosis changes nothing and everything about their routine. The two men, who seem to have only each other, bristle at having to engage in small talk with anyone. And yet “Paddleton” is an aggressively gentle film.
Well, for a film about assisted suicide.
“Paddleton,” a Netflix original film, spends most of its time chronicling the aftermath of Michael’s diagnosis and his subsequent decision to end his life with Andy’s help. Alex Lehmann, who directed the movie, and Duplass, who wrote it with him, make a commendable effort in observing its characters’ tics in hyper-specific detail. So do Romano and Duplass, who as actors are clearly invested in trying to imbue this intimate friendship with a lived-in familiarity and mumbly warmth.
Jeff Who Lives at Home”), could be quietly devastating. “Paddleton” is mostly just quiet.
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