Published Feb 23, 2012The subjects tackled within quirky, low-key Canadian comedy Doppelgänger Paul are that of intellectual property, authorial ownership, self-loathing and the contrary nature of individual self seeking likeminded companionship. Nothing is veiled or masked with arty contrivance, rather the theoretical becomes quite literal, which would be painful if not for the smart decision to make the entire ordeal awkward and comically tongue-in-cheek.
As suggested by the title, this low budget conversation piece/road movie finds the exceptionally lonely Kyle (Tygh Runyan) stalking his supposed doppelganger, Paul (Brad Dryborough), following a near-death experience. Instead of being an aesthetic identification, it's one of body language and ideology, as discovered through a series of hand-written letters and bewildering conversations near a polar bear enclosure.
Amidst intentionally idiosyncratic dialogue like, "I can't go to Calgary, there are too many fake cowboys and rodeos, and beef," a story emerges about Paul editing Kyle's opus, A Book about How Much I Hate Myself, into something accessible, contrary to Kyle's intentions. This book is then published by two other self-proclaimed doppelgangers, leading the pair down a road of discussions about the documenting of another's identity and the lost sense of self when a written text becomes the reader's.
While thematically interesting and mostly sustainable as a narrative, this gimmick runs out of steam quite quickly once the film exhausts its quirky debate and finds itself forced to tie up a story that has nowhere profound to go. The constructed confines of the self-conscious narrative ultimately implode, leaving the template of intellectual debate floundering with the demands of a cinematic template.
Resultantly, we wind up with a movie that intrigues and raises some interesting questions, but never finds a way to answer any of them or extend any allegorical olive branches to allow us our interpretation. (Films We Like)