“The Death (And Life) Of Carl Naardlinger” takes place at the place at which identity and humanity intersect. A metaphysical and occasionally absurdist comedy, it stars Matt Baram as one of the title characters.
Baram is Carl Naardlinger. Married to real estate mini-mogul Pam (Grace Lynn Kung), he’s an IT guy, spending his days solving people’s computer problems on the phone. His well-ordered suburban life is thrown askew with a knock on the door from a police officer from the missing persons bureau. Detective Renton (Anand Rajaram) is on the hunt for a man who’s disappeared, a man with the unlikely name of Carl Naardlinger.
The interaction leaves Carl unsettled. Over time he becomes fixated on finding the man who shares his name even though he’s presumed dead. His search becomes muddied when he finds the man’s identical twin brother (Mark Forward).
“The Death (And Life) Of Carl Naardlinger” has laughs but it isn’t quite a comedy. Instead it takes its bizarre premise and mines some real emotional moments from the material. The quirky idea could have made for an all out farce, a film with broad performances, but Katherine Schlemmer and cast opt for a thoughtful, po-faced approach. It’s that gentle, humanist attitude that allows the absurdist elements of the story to feel as grounded as a movie that hinges on coincidence and doppelgangers could probably ever feel. As quirky as the idea may be, the search for identity and what it truly means to understand your world is a universal desire and the film does a nice job of essaying that search.