Paper Man (2009) 

Given that the main character in my short film is a fiction writer with serious reality issues, I watched an independent film called Paper Man, written and directed by Michele and Kieran Mulroney.

The plot and characters are very-well developed in this film. There are two main characters, Richard Dunn (Jeff Daniels), who has had an imaginary super hero friend named Captain Excellent (Ryan Renolds) for forty years, and Abby (Emma Stone), a teenager who lost her twin in a dual-suicide attempt at age 8 (Abby states that her sister and her made a pact to swim out to the ocean together, but she chickened out and swam back to shore; her sister Amy drowned. Abby mentions that she doesn’t even remember why they were so unhappy and why it wasn’t something that they could just get over.) Her only friend is a boy of the same age named Christopher, who is madly in love with her. There are very in depth subplots and as the audience one doesn’t understand what Richard, a child-less man in his mid-thirties with marriage problems has in common with a teenage girl with unresolved psychological issues.

There is a particular turning point in the film, a major twist in plot that I chose to concentrate on. Abby reveals the secret no one except Christopher and her knew; Amy committed suicide. Abby and Richard are asleep when Captain Excellent and Christopher enter and meet for the first time in the living room. Until this point, Christopher has been portrayed as a creepy stalker friend who is in love with Abby. However, in this scene he reveals himself to Cpt. E as Abby’s imaginary friend who has been with her since the death of her sister.

The room was barely lit by a few floor lamps, so the fall off speed of light was high and there were shadows cast onto the characters faces. I was drawn to how the imaginary characters were shown as potentially menacing before their stories were revealed. The sound track had a child-like lullaby playing with a music box; while wind chimes and ocean waves layered in the background created an eerie tone. The camera was shooting from a low angle, so the characters appeared to tower over the sleeping pair, Abby and Richard, on the couch. Another favorite element throughout the film for me was the imaginary characters’ costumes. There is a juxtaposition illustrated best during this chosen scene. Cpt. E’s character is more imaginative, he’s an action hero (He is lit brighter than any other character. There is even a reverb on his voice and thunder rolls when he shakes hands with Christopher). He is tall, muscular, wears eyeliner, and his costume is bright red, blue and yellow, which resembles Superman’s costumes. Christopher, however wears all black, he is a small scrawny emo boy. I think this illustrates the difference in the Richard and Abby’s ages, and is a commentary on how today’s youth are different from ten to thirty years ago.

The link above will take you to the scene that I am referencing; enjoy.



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