Rotterdam 2024 Review: THE PARAGON, No-Budget Comedy About A Psychic Loser Is A Winner

Micheal Duignan's first film is quirky fun which gets the mix between silly and serious just right.

Contributing Writer; The Netherlands
Rotterdam 2024 Review: THE PARAGON, No-Budget Comedy About A Psychic Loser Is A Winner

Micheal Duignan's The Paragon might be his debut feature, but he has a storied career as a director of music videos, short comedy movies, television soaps and episodes of the new Power Rangers series. Somehow, this eclectic blend of work all features into The Paragon, a quirky comedy with a big heart, some deliciously shoddy B-film action and some broad strokes drama.

What makes The Paragon stand out, is that it delivers on all those fronts. The Paragon might be a relatively no-budget affair but with a promising premise, a good story and some great (comedic) actors you can get very far. In the film, a down-on-his-luck egocentric tennis coach called Dutch tries to get revenge on the person who ran him over in a hit-and-run, something he blames for his string of poor luck. The method to take revenge? Tap into his undeveloped psychic powers, with help from the psychic tutor Lyra, who looks and acts like a Power Rangers character. Lyra herself has an evil brother, Haxan, who himself looks and acts like a Power Rangers character, albeit a villain.

IFFR2024-Paragon-ext1.jpgBut those who expect a lot of psychic action and some Power Rangers inspired westernised tokusatsu, will be surprised, as The Paragon drifts off into several different, unexpected directions. Yes, there is some cosmic revenge going on, and some psychedelia which seems partly inspired by the likes of Ken Russell's Altered States. But a lot of the story becomes a heartfelt comedy about growing as a person, our goals in life, and the impact we have on others. If the film has one main reason to watch it, it is the chemistry between Dutch and the other characters, and the way in which he learns to grow as a person because of these interactions.

That some of the developments border on the treacly and cliché can be forgiven, because of both its modest ambitions ánd the way in which cast and crew sell those. The Paragon never pretends to reinvent the comedy wheel. Nor the revenge story. Nor the cosmic scifi. Nor have a new dramatic angle or something profound to say. The lack of pretense does make it feel like a breath of fresh air, and means that the film does hit on profundity despite itself.

Fitting for a film that is about a character trying to reach for cosmic greatness for the wrong reasons, and then learning the truth about why and how we should live our life, Duignan and his crew know exactly what the film is. It never overextends its welcome at 70 minutes. It is a quirky little comedy that knows how to play with its modest budget. This is a humble film with just enough aspirations to really stick the landing. And that makes The Paragon a diamond in the rough, for those who see it.

The Paragon

  • Michael Duignan
  • Michael Duignan
  • Benedict Wall
  • Florence Noble
  • Jessica Grace Smith
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Michael DuignanBenedict WallFlorence NobleJessica Grace SmithComedy

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