Last week I told you that I would try not to pick such depressing films every week for my This Week on Netflix segment but, considering I pick movies at random, I was unable to achieve my goal. This week’s Netflix film comes from Instant Queue and is a film called Paperman. An unbelievably odd story about a writer who is trying to complete his second novel, Paperman quickly turned from the weirdest movie I have ever seen to one of the most touching films I have watched in a long time.
Jeff Daniels stars as Richard Dunn, a failing writer that is desperately trying to complete his second novel. The film opens with Richard and his wife, Claire Dunn (Lisa Kudrow) as they travel to a cabin in Long Island so that Richard can have some solitude in which to write. To keep up with her job and allow Richard time to write, Claire lives elsewhere during the weekdays. It is clear from the beginning that Richard is a quirky, possibly mentally unstable individual. Though his is an adult, Richard is accompanied by his imaginary friend, the hilarious Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds), who has been with Richard for years. Plagued by writer’s block and unable to even being his novel, Richard ventures out to town. There he meets the teenage Becca (Emma Stone) along who is with her friend Christopher (Kieran Culkin) and her chicken-shit boyfriend Bryce (Hunter Parrish). Though he is childless, Richard hires Becca to babysit which turns into house-sitting while Richard wastes time in town. Though their relationship seems to start as something that could turn sexual and therefore pedophiliac, the two end up being two lonely people that long for the company of a friend. Drama explodes when Claire misinterprets the friendship between Becca and Richard forcing each character to examine not only their lives but the relationships that make them up.
Watching this film is an odd experience throughout but during the last half an hour it becomes abundantly clear that this film is brilliant. With a script as quirky as the main character, the film messes with your mind in more ways than one. Richard spends the film obsessing over the name for his novel’s main character, a bird that is the last of his kind. We hear the first line of the novel over and over again, “Richard regarded his solitude as something sacred”, and each time with a different name. We don’t realize that the line is about Richard himself until he realizes it at the end of the film. The realization, in my opinion, serves as the films resolution, giving it a sense of closure. The film also brilliantly develops Becca and Richard’s relationship. At first, seeming to be something that was going to lead to an unholy and illegal situation, the relationship evolves without the audience realizing it. What initially made me uncomfortable turns into a heart breaking friendships between a man longing for a child and a young woman longing for a family to love her.
This film is certainly worth watching, especially if you have Neflix because….well you can stream it instantly whenever you want. The film is darkly comedic and seems to deliberately mess with your head. I give it an 8 out of 10. The acting, though nothing award winning, is great throughout the film but its real appeal is it’s oddly thought provoking content and story.