The Paranoids, Gabriel Medina’s Chokingly Offbeat Debut


When he isn’t dressing up in a fuzzy costume for children’s birthday parties, scribbling notes for his perpetually unfinished screenplay, or smoking pot and puttering around his depressing little apartment, thirtysomething loner Luciano (Lost Embrace‘s Daniel Hendler) worries about anything he can wrap his insecure mind around, from STDs to his doorman. Maybe it’s appropriate that Argentinean writer-director Gabriel Medina’s chokingly offbeat debut is as aimless and confused as its prototypical slacker-comedy hero, who seems to have wandered into a glum dramedy with a hazy noirish aesthetic. Early on, Luciano hospitalizes his hapless buddy and kiddie-biz partner, Martin (Martín Feldman), by slamming a door on his throat, an accident that’s neither funny nor dramatic and offers no real payoff. Then an old friend from Madrid, rich TV producer Manuel (Walter Jakob), arrives in Buenos Aires and casually forgets to tell Luciano that one of the eponymous characters on his hit Spanish TV show The Paranoids is based on and named after him. Manuel’s debasing of his failure of a pal seems to imply a wry clash between the wealthy and middle class, but then Medina drops that one idea to shoehorn in a plotline involving Manuel’s girlfriend, Sofia (Jazmín Stuart), who stumbles into the picture as a source of vaguely romantic tension.

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