PAPERBACK: Poorly Made & Filled With Unlikable Characters
Paperback is a romantic comedy, which isn't terribly funny or romantic, falling flat because it is trying to make you root for the terrible parts of its main character.
Adam Bowers wrote, directed, and starred in the vaguely comedic and romantic film Paperback. He played the leading man, Rob, a guy still working at the pizza shop in his college town. When his best friend Jason (Colin Contreary) comes back into town after accepting a job as a professor, Rob’s life choices are explored.
His meeting with cute Emily (Dreama Walker) is tested when he realizes she is the wife of his best friend, someone Rob never cared to meet. He did not attend his best friend’s wedding, and in the subsequent years, he never even saw a picture of Emily.
No Characters Worthy of Rooting
Throughout this film, I felt the most connected to one character, Samantha (Genevieve Jones), and most of this came from the fact that she did not support any of the other characters. She told Rob what he was doing was wrong and not a way to start a long-term relationship. Moment after moment, Rob chose to ignore her, and continued on his pathway of having an affair with his best friend’s wife.
Rob kept making the most terrible decisions, and he was portrayed as this awkward, unlucky-in-love man, but my takeaway with his character was how much he only cared about himself. Every decision he made was what would benefit him the most. Even after Emily said she was happy with her husband, and no longer wanted to challenge that relationship, he was still thinking of ways to end up with her.
I never once thought his journey was interesting or sympathetic. Another aspect of his character I found lacking was his spur-of-the-moment decision to be a writer. He spent barely any amount of time calling himself a writer until he felt his life was interesting enough to warrant a novel. I did like that he self-published and no one bought it, but I thought having him decide to be a writer because he felt he was tortured by women and romance, when he was really the one torturing everyone else.
Headache Inducing Production Values
I do not want this to seem hyperbolic, but this film gave me a headache. The film had this constant, slight fuzziness. I almost could not watch it, I kept focusing on the static in both the background and foreground. The colors were very washed out throughout, which could work, but in Paperback, this felt like a stylistic choice that was not properly executed.
I wondered if the static was from the editing. It felt like someone editing without a clear image in mind, so they just keep pushing and pushing, until they go too far, and are left with something extreme in all the wrong ways. This static remained throughout the entire film, and slowly seeped into your brain, forming itself into a headache of distractions.
Is Paperback an Anti-Romantic Comedy?
The only way the plot and characters make sense to me is if this film is trying to challenge the conventions of the romantic comedy. If this was the case, I felt Rob’s character was portrayed too much as a character for which we are supposed to root for this to be the case.
Even if I personally felt he came across as selfish and unlikable, I did not feel this is the way the film was trying to paint him, which took away from an interpretation of this film being against its central romance. Paperback falls flat because it is trying to make you root for the terrible parts of its main character in the guise that they make him interesting and better than the decent people around him.
Paperback is a romantic comedy which isn’t terribly funny or romantic. The film focuses entirely on its unlikable lead, while ignoring its better supporting characters, especially Genevieve Jones‘s character, Samantha.
Have you seen Paperback? Tell us you thoughts in the comments below!
Paperback was released through Digital Platforms on January 23, 2018. For all international release dates, see here.
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