Doppelganger Paul is a locally shot bromantic comedy

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      Starring Tygh Runyan and Brad Dryborough. Unrated. Opens Friday, March 16, at the Vancity Theatre

      Two strangers meet in a restroom near Stanley Park, but it’s not what you think. You see, these guys think they might be doppelgängers—or doubles for each other, if you’re not feeling Teutonic today.

      The fragility of male bonding is the somewhat thin yet mostly provocative conceit of this locally shot film, which features solid performances from its well-aired leads. Tygh Runyan usually plays hunky brooders, but here he’s a sensitive, socially awkward loner, called Karl, who latches onto bearded everyman Paul, played by TV veteran Brad Dryborough.

      They connect when Karl leaves a series of long notes on the other dude’s door. Instead of calling the cops, the equally dejected Paul writes back, and they eventually hook up in the above-mentioned environs—the implications of which are pretty much ignored in this bromantic comedy, which is far more concerned with words than with wants. Speaking of verbal diarrhea, Karl has written a gigantic manuscript about his theories on loneliness and identity—not that we actually get many of the specifics. Anyway, Paul agrees to edit this tome, with unintended results.

      Because most scenes are face-to-face dialogues, it’s good that codirectors (of course) Kris Elgstrand and Dylan Akio Smith keep shifting their central four-hander—minus one thumb, but that comes later—to new locations. The lads even head to Powell’s Books in Portland when a couple of wacky interlopers (Ben Cotton and Matty Finochio) appear to double down on their ideas.

      Things have an unfortunate tendency to devolve into ineffectual fistfights, perhaps for the sake of tonal variety, and the addition of out-of-nowhere girlfriends late in the story doesn’t add much oomph either. Still, the film manages to tread unusual territory with enough wit to make the trip worthwhile. Bill Frisell’s atmospheric guitar score certainly helps dispel any sense of Hollywood cliché. But shouldn’t that have been two guitars?

      Watch the trailer for Doppelgänger Paul.