It is difficult to know where to begin with this review.
Upon hearing about this movie, I had a few immediate thoughts. As someone who’s wheelchair-bound, I was fascinated by the summary of the movie stating that it was about a man who ends up in a wheelchair and cannot cope with it, and develops an obsession with the woman who leaves him. In other words, a thriller depicting a wheelchair user as someone with a dark side and different from tropes in other movies I’ve seen about wheelchair users. Admittedly I haven’t seen a wide variety but the two tropes that stick out are: when a paralysed character learns from their carer and vice versa, leading to an enriched perspective of life and character growth, and the paralysed character learning to cope with their new reality.
The Paramedic does touch on the second trope and kind of reverses it by showing he doesn’t really learn to cope, but more importantly it becomes clear that his personality is the real issue, rather than the injury itself.
Ironically, that’s part of the problem I have with this movie.
So, let’s talk about The Paramedic. This review will contain spoilers. So, I recommend only reading the next 3 or so paragraphs if you want to have an idea of how it starts and then watch it yourself. The rest, I’m going to talk about most of the plot details.
This is a Spanish movie about Angel, a paramedic who, right off the bat, is shown to have some obvious and horrible flaws. In the first scene we see the aftermath of a crash and a woman sobbing. Angel is one of the paramedics who attends the scene and goes to the other car involved after the driver is taken out of it, to steal her sunglasses as a memento. We also see him selling jewellery to a black-market dealer soon after, implying that stealing from the crash sites is a thing he does to supplement his income.
He has a French girlfriend, Vane (short for Vanessa), with whom he is trying to have a baby. It’s pretty clear early on he is a bit possessive and passive-aggressive with her. She is studying and has a good-looking classmate and Angel clearly doesn’t like the idea of this.
That establishes the kind of person Angel is and the dynamic he has with his girlfriend.
Then we see the accident that causes his paraplegia. From this point on, we see the effects of it on him and his dynamics with Vane, the subsequent obsession he develops with her and how that plays out. From this point on, there are lots of spoilers.
I’ll just put the score I gave the movie early on for those who don’t want to see more: 2/10. Or as I like to put it: Don’t bother.
The movie skips entirely over the immediate consequences of the accident and the rehab that he surely would have gone through in learning to cope with losing the ability to walk, amongst all the intricacies that come with that. Instead, we see a visceral emotional reaction from him; he is crying profusely with Vane attempting to comfort him. It was a good scene and poignant because, of course, he is mourning the end of his life as someone who had full mobility and that kind of emotional reaction is an important part of the process. It also humanised him to an extent, but unfortunately, it’s pretty much the only scene that I can remember doing so.
When I mentioned that part of the problem with this movie was his personality, this is what I mean: Angel is an asshole. He’s abusive, passive-aggressive, possessive and jealous. He spies on his girlfriend through her phone. As a consequence, I didn’t really care what he did or what he was going through.
I do appreciate that the movie made it pretty clear that the injury really only exacerbated these huge character flaws instead of implied that it caused them, but it’s very hard to give a shit about an asshole.
And you would think that maybe this means I’d give more of a shit about the other people in the movie who are affected by his actions, but… on the whole? Nope. The only time I felt any real emotion was when he did something to the neighbour’s dog because he couldn’t stand the barking at night (the dog was lonely because the neighbour went to visit his dying wife in the hospital).
We don’t really see much personality from Angel other than him being a giant dickhead. We don’t see much personality from Vane even after she leaves when she finds out he is spying on her. We see a time skip of some months. He stalks her and invites her back. He sedates her and ties her to the bed and gags her. Now she’s his hostage. He pretends to be her on her phone, to make her boyfriend (the driver who was driving the ambulance when Angel got injured) think she has left him.
The issue with the movie was that, aside from the lack of personality from the characters, was the slowness and lack of thrills. This was a thriller that managed to produce maybe 3 strong emotional reactions from me throughout the entire movie. In the beginning, and the end. There are definitely moments where you’re watching and think, “Well, shit, what he’s going to do now?” I suspect the director wanted to drive home the idea that we’re watching how far Angel will go with each step, but it feels lacking in tension. The moments are so broken up with long sequences of what feel like nothing that it’s hard to care. I certainly didn’t.
He is horrible to Vane in that he gives her an epidural, therefore putting her at equal footing to him. This made me squirm intensely because that’s an awful thing to do. And that’s about the most my sympathy extended to her. Also, the neighbour learns about this situation and makes some very stupid choices, so I ended up not caring about him either.
Angel ends up killing two people throughout the course of this movie and instead of me caring, I just ended up questioning the logistics involved.
I don’t really have much to add. There wasn’t much tension until the very end, when both of them fight it out with limited mobility, on top of the stairwell of his apartment. Too little, too late. This wasn’t a thriller, really. It was just a slow, boring character study of a dick who becomes more of a dick because of events outside of his control.
And the worst part?! Even when we learn he isn’t dead, but now a quadriplegic, Vane appears, heavily pregnant, and tells him she’s going to look after him now, with the implication she’s going to be horrible to him after what he did to her. So, not only do we not know why he’s not in prison or something, but the very victim of his abuse gets to look after him? And now it’s implied that she will make his life hell? I don’t know what I’m supposed to take from that. Every bit of sympathy I had for her just went out of the window at this point. Normally I would feel this kind of moment can be earned if the dynamics are handled properly but in a movie like this? Nope.
I give this movie a 2/10. It could’ve been an interesting character study and look at a change in dynamics pre-injury to post-injury between an asshole and his partner, but instead it’s shallow, boring and not at all thrilling.
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Zen Wick has a passion for writing sci-fi and low fantasy, as well as the occasional crack fiction. He loves video games, art and procrastination. Will occasionally think about Big Topics.