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One of my old English teachers once asked us about a book, "Did you all
the book? I'm not asking whether you enjoyed it; I don't care. I want to
know if you liked it." She was making an important distinction.
I remembered that as I watched Punch-Drunk Love. It's very unusual. The film is set in L.A., but you don't see much scenery indicating that. You see unpleasant things. Adam Sandler's office is long and empty: just seeing him sitting at his desk assaults you with a feeling of loneliness (not because of any sappy music--but because of the set and the camera work). He walks out into a never-ending warehouse; it feels empty, brutal. He exits the warehouse and you see another unending sight: the row of garage-like doors of all the other warehouses. It feels like it lasts forever, this row of doors, and when Adam gets to the end of it, he looks out onto a long, straight, industrial, empty street. It looks HORRIBLE, but why? Nothing is happening on the street, there are no gruesome sights, no particular signs of squalor or anything, and yet you feel repulsed, hopeless, alone. Then, out of the distance, a car whizzes by, nothing unusual, but it feels abrasive. With no relation at all to the plot, just as it appears, this car hits something and explodes, its remains slide off into the distance and you see nothing more of it. It's trivial. But you feel like the movie is being hostile toward YOU, the viewer.
Yes, that's the best way I can put it: you feel like the movie is being hostile toward YOU. A few minutes later, a truck flies by, again very abrasively, and drops a harmonium in front of Adam Sandler. There is no rhyme or reason to this, it just happens, and it's all very unpleasant.
About a third of the way through the video, my phone rang. I told my friend what I was watching, and she asked how it was. I told her, "I can't decide. I'm not sure I like it." I kept watching. At the end, I understood. What I had meant to tell my friend was that I wasn't enjoying it. And I wasn't meant to.
The film starts out with a very bad point in Adam Sandler's life. He is neurotic, you want to kill his sisters even though they're not malicious per se, he is lonely, his life is unpleasant. This movie is trying to do more than TELL you it's unpleasant, and even more than SHOW you it's unpleasant: the movie is trying to get inside you and make you FEEL it. You seriously feel the abrasiveness of every image, every sound, every character; you feel accosted by it. When there's silence, it's brutal silence. When there are sounds, they're brutal sounds. Images and movements are abrasive. Until Adam's life begins to flourish: then you get pretty sounds, pretty colors--as the viewer, you're let off the hook, too.
So when it was over, I was in amazement. How many movies succeed at this, at taking you WITH them to the discomfort the character is living? The cinematography, the sound work, the script--none of it is any accident. When his life isn't going well, you FEEL it. Did I like the movie? Very much. And if you appreciate a very unusual take on an old topic, you will too.
I caught this at the New York film festival and my expectations were
about as low as they could be. I was never a huge Adam Sandler
fan, and I hadn't ever taken a liking to PT Anderson's other films. I
thought that Magnolia was pretty flimsy writing-wise, and I also
thought that it got way too much undue attention when it came
I couldn't believe how great Punch Drunk Love was. It seems to be the polar opposite of Magnolia. Where Magnolia was sprawling, messy and often generic, Punch Drunk Love is short, tight and completely fresh. It reminded me of Fargo, in a way. It centers on a very small cadre of characters, it's incredibly focused, and it creates its own world for those characters to live and move around in.
It's been mentioned here before, but the art direction is stunning. I haven't seen such memorable visuals since The Royal Tenenbaums. In a grocery store scene, the items are stacked vertically by color (echoing the color bars that appear periodically between scenes), making the scene appear otherworldly. Other sets are bare of color or distinction. Sandler's love interest in the film (played by Emily Watson) lives in a maze of white corridors. Somehow, every "place" in the film has its own character and association. Even the characters become associated with particular colors.
The movie ends up being genuinely romantic while deviating completely from the very stale paradigm for romantic comedies of the last decade: Watson's character pursues Barry Egan; their inability to hit it off from the start is more character-driven and psychological than situational. Through the use of bizarre props and surreal scenes, the anxiety and frustration of Barry Egan becomes totally absorbing and affecting.
This is a wonderfully directed film. There isn't an extraneous moment. The visual style and pacing are particularly great. There's an interesting subtext in the film about communication - enormous background noise while characters are on the phone, Barry Egan's sisters' voices create this wall of noise (all voices making fun of him), telephones figure predominantly, the opening scene is completely bereft of background noise or music. There are a lot of interesting things to consider when it comes to the theme of communication and how sound is handled in the film.
That said, I'm already cringing at how most people are going to react to this. The Adam Sandler fans might find it too weird. People who liked PT Anderson's other movies might find it too pretensious. I was thrilled to have my low expectations completely overturned. This movie is great.
Boy, did this movie disappoint a lot of people.....but not me. The
"disappointed" were the Adam Sandler fans who expected another "Happy
Gilmore"-type character, the kind of goofball the comedian has built a
career on portraying. Instead, they got a dark comedy/drama that was
anything but the typical Sandler fare. They also got a weird story.
I had the advantage of knowing what to expect, and that helped a lot. Also, I guess I've watched too many movies because I am beginning to like some of these oddball films....and this one certainly qualifies as "odd." I thought the mixture of dark humor, drama, suspense and romance all made for a fascinating film. You just never knew what was coming next, something funny or something horrifying. This is definitely something different and I suspect one of those movies you'll either really like or really hate.
I supposed it helped I like Emily Watson, who is the female love interest in here. No one that nice would keep seeing a wacko like Sandler's character in here, but that's the movies for you. In most cases, you have to suspend your belief.
The storyline, whether pleasant or very unpleasant, got me involved and the camera-work in here was interesting, too. In summary, it's a curiosity piece for those who like something different. Just don't expect a happy, hilarious Happy Gilmore.
We've come to expect a lot from Paul Thomas Anderson. After his twin
masterpieces "Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia", not to mention the
and satisfying "Hard Eight", we knew he was a filmmaker of skill and
So when it was announced that the next PTA film would be a 90-minute
romantic comedy starring (Gasp!) Adam Sandler, I was, for one, not
This man had taken Mark Wahlberg and turned him into someone we could be
proud to watch onscreen. He cast icon Tom Cruise, gave him the character
Frank "T.J." Mackey, and directed the actor to one of the most repulsive,
offensive, and inspired performances of the "Top Gun" star's career. So,
was pretty confident in his ability to handle the star of "Little Nicky".
But, boy, I still wasn't prepared for what I saw. Sandler just wasn't
he was INCREDIBLE. I couldn't believe my eyes-here was the man behind
Crazy Nights" creating a completely realized, utterly human character
studied, nuanced performance. Many have commented on the fact that Barry
Egan, Sandler's character, is not that different from his previous
incarnations. Socially akward and prone to explosive violence, Barry
just be the key to explainging Sandler's Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore.
character helps shine a light on the inner torment of those man-children.
The plot is a bit more complicated than your usual romantic-comedy fair. First off, it's really not a comedy. Second off, the two major players-Sandler and Emily Watson as the beautiful and mysterious Lena Leonard-both have quirks and tension that ordinary movie characters who fall in love don't in movies today. Barry has been terribly scarred (perhaps irreperably) by the constant torment and abuse of his seven sisters. There are several scenes where he bursts into destructive rages for no real reason-to sum it up, this guy has problems. Lena seems to have some of the same hurt simmering under her, but she controls it and accepts Barry for who he is, eventually coming to a stage where she understands him better than anyone truly ever has. Much of "Punch-Drunk Love"'s story is how Egan manages to regain control of himself and experience truly human feelings for the first time. Lena is his salvation-through his devotion to her he saves himself.
The film's other specifics are a bizarre, but extremely original mix of details. Barry is a toilet-plunger salesman. He one day wanders onto a loophole in a snack-foods sponsored contest that would allow him to get enough frequent flier miles to never have to pay for a plane ticket again. First, however, is the nasty business with a small-time porn entrepeneur in Utah who is trying to extort a large sum of money from Barry, using the company's "Four Blonde Brothers" to threaten the (for a time) hapless Egan. The film is so utterly free that to reveal how these disparate elements come together would ruin the movie. Much of the joy of "Punch-Drunk Love" is that you never truly know where the movie is going to go next.
The performances are uniformly excellent. Philip Seymour Hoffman is "the heavy", but he puts a small line of tragedy in his character. Dean Trumbell seems fierce, but a telling look at his "empire" reveals he is all bark and no bite. The always-great Luis Guzman is Sandler's well-wishing co-worker, Lance, who is constantly supportive of Barry despite his doubts about what is really going on inside his boss's head. And Emily Watson is appropriately fascinating and quietly alluring as Lena, who drops her car off one day and admits the next she did it just to meet Barry.
The film might seem weird and violent, but this is truly one of the sweetest movies I have seen at a long time. At its core, "PDL" is decent, honest, and beautiful. It is reminiscent of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", which, despite its rampant drug use and other disturbing subject matter, was a film that had a heart of gold. One of the best of 2002, "Punch-Drunk Love" will be seen in the future as a shining moment for all involved. Here's to hoping it will also be seen as the beginning of Adam Sandler's serious film career.
I saw Punch Drunk Love at the Gothenburg film festival today and I was totally overwhelmed by it. I had really looked forward to it since I love Paul Thomas Anderson's earlier films. Magnolia is still among my top five favourite movies ever and my expectations were therefore almost too high. I must admit I was sceptical of Adam Sandler playing a serious part. But he makes fantastic interpretation of his character Barry Egan, a small business owner pushed around by his seven (!) sisters who's miserable life takes a turn when he meets love in Emily Watson's character. Watson makes a beautiful portrait of the mysterious and lonely Lena who falls in love with Barry.
The movie isn't just well acted, it's also magnificent to watch. The camerawork is exquisite and Anderson really shows of his visual talent. Every frame in the one and a half hour film could be frozen and displayed as a piece of art. But the most impressive thing in the film is still Adam Sandler. Every word, expression and nuance is perfect and genuine. If this doesn't deserve an Oscar nomination I don't now what will. His performance is superior to the last five winners.
Punch Drunk Love is the way a movie should be. It's the way you wish all movies were like and I wish I could hang it on my wall. The poster will have to do.
This is a great movie (my opinion) and here's why...it shows two
characters falling in love and acting stupid. They don't have all the
right things to say to each other; they get scared; they walk away and
wish they had said something, anything other than what they did/didn't
say; they get embarrassed, they giggle and snort...and the list goes
If you don't like this movie, it's OK. I think this is the kind of movie that is sorta just sitting there, waiting for the "right" people to see it and nod their heads and smile and say, yes, this is how it is. It's quiet and doesn't scream for people to pay attention to it; it's just there. It doesn't make any promises and it doesn't need to.
The storyline may veer from "real" life, but these two characters pretty much get it--what people do when they are very much "in love" with someone.
Being a big fan of P.T. Anderson's work since I saw `Boogie Nights' (about 3
times in one week at the theater) years ago, I anxiously awaited the release
of his latest film. Then I heard it starred Adam Sandler, who is one of my
least favorite actors of all time, but even then I figured that if anyone is
going to make me not want to start throwing things at Sandler's image, it
would be Anderson. After all, he got me to respect Tom Cruise after seeing
`Magnolia'. When I finally got to see the film this past weekend (after
wanting to see the film for about a year) I wasn't disappointed, and I found
that my trust was not misplaced. Anderson took Sandler and turned him into
a sad sack who is so psychologically screwed up he would be an analyst's
dream. Emily Watson is his perfect counterpart as a classy yet extremely
quirky love interest.
The content is pure P.T. Anderson. There are issues that are brought up that are completely bizarre and unexplained, and there are themes that are culled from real-life stories or incidents. Stylistically, it's a slight departure in that it isn't quite as flashy or `slick' as his last two films, but the bright primary colors that pervade the cinematography are absolutely beautiful. And instead of the steady 70's and 80's soundtrack that he usually utilizes, he kept it more simple this time, and just as inspired with the continuous running of `He Needs Me' from the `Popeye' soundtrack. That touch was not only fitting, but also simply brilliant.
I love the work of P.T. Anderson, and was absolutely charmed and endeared to this film. Just like `Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' isn't going to make me watch a Jim Carrey comedy, I'm still going to avoid Adam Sandler comedies like the plague, but I have to say that I respect him for his work in this film. This is the kind of romance film I like, and I recommend it to anyone who doesn't settle for the kind of romantic comedy/dramas that are churned out now by Hollywood.
Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love is a fascinating film. Perhaps
2002's best movie - and one of the best drama/romantic-comedies to ever
hit the silver screen.
PT Anderson is an absolute genius. A talented and master film-maker. Boogie Nights and Magnolia, two of Anderson's previous films, were absolutely stunning. Boogie Nights, in particular, was a complete masterpiece. And Punch-Drunk Love is no exception, another great piece of film-making by what is quickly becoming one of the world's top Directors. I can't wait for whatever he does next.
Also, it's difficult to overstate the performance of Adam Sandler. I'm confident this will go down in history as his best work. Ironically, I thought I'd never see this movie because of Sandler starring in it. (I ONLY watched it because of my respect for PT Anderson - and I still waited 3 years to see it!). I enjoy most of Sandler's non-romantic comedies, but I couldn't even imagine him in a romantic movie, I thought he would be horrible. I couldn't have been more wrong. I wasn't prepared for such a great performance, as he stole the show from the opening scene. I can't remember ever being more surprised with the lead actor in a movie. He was simply great, a truly terrific performance.
On the flip side, Emily Watson, as the caring Lena, was wonderful as well. I've got the feeling we will be seeing much more of her, as she had a breakout performance here in PDL. I thought at first that she almost looked too beautiful to put up with the antics of someone like Sandler's character (as she would be in high demand with the males), but then we see the quirky side of her as well, and it all comes together. Great touch.
I recommend this movie to anyone over the age of 25. If you're a teenager who's hoping for a few laughs from Sandler, you're going to be gravely disappointed. Buy the movie, store it in your closet, and pull it out when you reach 30 - and you'll love it! And please, don't let "romantic comedy" scare you (as it does me). I almost REFUSE to watch romantic comedies, but this one is much different. Romance and comedy surely aren't the first things that come to mind when I think of this film. It's a drama full of tension and embarrassment. It's an uplifting, yet shocking movie. To the intellectual mind, I can't recommend it enough.
Thank you for reading!...
Paul Thomas Anderson created a poetic masterpiece with 'Punch-Drunk Love'.
This film portrays the story of a man who escapes his misery in a -newly
found- self esteem and with love.
It was an absolute joy to see Adam Sander in a role of such depth and complexity. Philip Seymour Hoffman adds a little bit of his unlimited talent to the show in a role that defined the ending of the movie.
'Punch-Drunk Love' is the best movie the Coen brothers never made. It is smart and rewarding. The pleasant surprise of 2002.
Adam Sandler is known for his wacky, flaky, and sometimes over the top
style of comedy. With films like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and Big
Daddy under his belt, one would think that he would stick with what
he's got. Sandler has shown us a new side of him with his performance
in Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch Drunk Love.
Sandler plays Barry Egan, an ambitious man who owns and operates his own business. He sells his own plungers. One day after finishing a phone call with a food company, he walks outside to find a tiny piano someone dropped on the side of the road. He runs after it and puts it in his office. Then shortly after he meets Lena Leonard (Emily Watson) who needs help with her car. Being the nice guy he is, he complies.
Barry Egan is a great guy. He is nice and is trying his best to do well. With seven sisters, he faces the brunt of their vicious wrath that they unintentionally place upon him. With embarrassing stories of growing up and how they teased him, Barry has a little built up anger that he uses here and there, like his sister's sliding glass door. Barry means well, but man can he do damage.
When lonely one night, Barry calls a sex line for just someone to talk to. What he ends up getting himself into is a huge scandal with the operator of the sex line due to the fact that he gave his credit card number to them and everything they need to know to get money from him. On top of this, Barry has found a way to cheat the food company he talks to in the beginning. The deal is getting free frequent-flyer miles due to a deal the company has on all of their items...including individual pudding cups. Barry pounces on the opportunity by buying as many 25 cent cups as he can so he can fly anywhere for free.
With an interesting plot and a great performance by both Sandler and Watson, this film is bound to make an impact. Sandler's more dramatic side shows, giving us a glimpse at the real actor behind all of the goofy nonsense we have come to love over the years. It was really refreshing to see a comedian do a really good job acting in a serious role. It reminded me of Jim Carey is The Truman Show. Serious, yet still able to crack a joke, much like Sandler in this film.
Anderson is no newcomer when it comes to movies. He has written and directed a couple of gems. Boogie Nights and Magnolia are two he both wrote and directed and came out great. This movie is no different. It's unique style with interesting choices for music give the picture an edge.
If Sandler keeps landing roles like this, he could potentially put himself in position for an Oscar nomination, much like Bill Murray did with Lost in Translation. That's not to say he shouldn't make his regular comedies, but a nice blend would be great. Punch Drunk Love is a knockout!
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