“Paddleton”: Settling into the Gentle Comedy That Is Friendship and Death.

Comedies usually begin with a funeral and end with a wedding. Tragedies begin with weddings and end with death. Paddleton (on Netflix) starts with bosom buddies bonding and ends with bereavement.

The film never hides what it is, a gentle comedy stuck in the twilight moments between light and dark, life and death, love and loss. After the play– and for the two here, it’s Paddleton, their shared game that involves paddles, drums functioning as hoops, balls bouncing off the boards of a shuttered drive-in screen- is the deadly diagnosis, the road trip that becomes the last soft hurrah of two good people caught in the shade of being nice lights.

Paddleton eschews statement. It is an ode made from the softer parts of Midnight Cowboy and Rain Man. It is the last known, wise breath of their friendship.

Paddleton is so gentle, so decently acted that it can feel slight to the unobservant. Watch and listen and one will find a film with a finely tuned vision, stuck like most every one in the sad-happy middle.

All photos courtesy of Netflix.

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