Punch Drunk Love (2002) Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. With Adam Sandler, Emily Watson and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
If ever a case were to be argued for film being a directors medium, then Paul Thomas Anderson’s unconventional romantic comedy, Punch-Drunk Love, is a great place to begin the debate.
Throw away your pre-conceptions of what defines an Adam Sandler comedy, as here, the actor is given the opportunity to be part of something far more resonant and offbeat, than the usual brand slapstick silliness that has become the hallmark of his career. Sandler plays Barry Egan, a man who despite running his own business, suffers from a nervous disposition which occasionally flares into outbursts of uncontrollable rage. Barry’s muddled mind is further scrambled by his interfering eight sisters and their attempts to coax him into a date.
The film itself is a thing of beauty. The shot compositions alone are works of fine art, further complimented by some wonderfully leftfield performances headed up by a career best, Adam Sandler. Emily Watson too, and Philip Seymour Hoffman are an absolute joy to behold, in their respective supporting roles.
Amid the madness, there’s something deeply and inherently sweet about Anderson’s film. The choice of soundtrack music, mixed with the abstract score, fit the obscure nature of Barry Egan’s approach to life and love. This is a man who has no idea how to operate conventionally, but he’s all the more loveable for it.
Punch-Drunk Love is likely to catch some Adam Sandler fans out, but hopefully, it might introduce a few people to a style of film-making they might otherwise have not discovered. Anderson’s film far is more than just an unorthodox piece of casting though, it’s an eccentric love story with a strong heart, in the right place. 5/5