Directed by: Lim Yan Bing
Starring: Loo Shu Jin, Lee Szu Lin
If there is one thing about librarians we have come to know after watching so many movies, it is that they all are lonely, sad people waiting for someone to fill their blank pages with exhilarating prose. Their eyes are stuck on computers, and their hands busy themselves filing up the book entries on the system. Why are they always shown so lonely? I have never spoken to a librarian, at least not intimately. Hence, I can’t comment on the authenticity of these gloomy portrayals. Surely, there must be librarians who revel in drinking, partying, and getting laid. Not all of them could be unpopular human beings.
In director Lim Yan Bing’s Paddy, the librarian (Loo Shu Jin) is a spectacled, young man. We never come to know his name so for the sake of simplicity, let’s call him L. Similar to the “common” librarians mentioned above, L spends his time entering data and arranging books on the shelves. He almost operates like a robot until a girl makes an entrance. His eyes move around with a pinch of curiosity (and excitement, probably) when he asks why she is not at her home yet.
According to the description, this girl named Jane (Lee Szu Lin) is supposed to be L’s girlfriend. I didn’t buy it for a second. To me, she appeared more as L’s crush, to whom he is unable to convey his feelings. Notice Jane’s interaction with L, and you will see that she is not into him. Oh boy, we all have been in such a relationship, haven’t we? Love flows all right. But it flows from only one direction - the other side does not reciprocate with the same intensity. I was easily able to put myself in L’s shoes (no, not the librarian part). And that is why I could understand his next move after coming across a picture left behind Jane in a book.
With the help of cinematographer Chin Kien Hwa, Lim Yan Bing takes a static approach to shoot Paddy. The camera quietly observes from a distance without any movement. It’s as if L’s diffidence is transferred to the lens, holding it from making active manoeuvres. The actors move awkwardly. Perhaps, more rehearsals could have smoothened the rough edges. It suited L up to a point, but more practice could have yielded better results in the final take. In the end, however, Paddy wants to communicate that you should never beat yourself up for someone who doesn’t care. Like that photograph in the book, things may appear to be bright and seductive in the images, but its reality may reveal an unattractive truth.