'The Paramedic' Review: Netflix's Spanish thriller is a mediocre and forgettable tale that demonizes disability
A movie with harmful ableist stereotypes wrapped around a bland and straightforward plot in an ultimately forgettable experience
Spoilers for 'The Paramedic'
As far as thrillers go, 'The Paramedic' is a rather straightforward Spanish thriller. Directed by Carles Torres, the film features Angel (Mario Casas), a jealous, paranoid man in an unhappy relationship, and his obsession with his partner Vane (Déborah François) takes a dark turn after she leaves him. He drugs her, holds her hostage, kills her new boyfriend, and ultimately dies himself when Vane makes a desperate escape attempt. It's a story without a lot of meat on its bones, and the only thing that makes it stand out is the one key factor that should have stopped the movie from being made in the first place: the film's harmful approach to disability.
While it is established that Angel wasn't the best of partners even before his accident, the film somehow implies -- in both its marketing and its plotting -- that being forced into a wheelchair is what truly sent Angel over the edge. The possessive boyfriend only goes to dark extremes after he loses the ability to walk as if his legs were the only thing holding him back from stalking his girlfriend and attempting to force her to raise a baby with him. The film doubles down on its harmful approach to disability about halfway through when Angel incapacitates Vane by injecting her with drugs that cause her own legs not to work, somehow depicting this as the ultimate nightmare as opposed to being tied up and imprisoned by a man who has lost all touch with reality.
The film does not have a lot going for it beyond that. Mario Casas is passable in his portrayal of a man who wants complete control over his girlfriend. He does not set a high bar acting-wise and nothing special is done with the character. It's clear that Angel's personal issues have nothing to do with his accident, and everything to do with the fact that he's an abusive and manipulative boyfriend, who takes Vane by force when guilt and gaslighting don't work on her. Déborah François is likewise passable in the role of a girlfriend who doesn't have a lot of actual affection for the man she's with. Both actors do just about enough with their performance to match the tone set by the script, and nothing more.
'The Paramedic' is a dull story wrapped in an unnecessarily harmful premise, that tells its story quickly and gets out. On its own, its a largely forgettable movie that should never have gotten much farther than the pitching stage. Skip 'The Paramedic' if you have the chance, but if you've already seen it, it won't be long until you've forgotten it existed. Ultimately, that's for the best.
'The Paramedic' is now available to stream on Netflix.