Friday, November 22, 2002

Punch Drunk Love is a film for everyone who has ever kicked in a series of plate glass windows or destroyed a restruant bathroom, or those who have wanted to.

Everyone else, you just won't understand.

Average Adam Sandler fans, you won't understand.

To understand this movie you have to know where it is coming from, otherwise you'll just be as uncomfortable as a 60-year-old grandmother of 8 watching a live performance of the Rocky Horror Show amongst an audience of hairy drag queens and touchy-feely-neo-pagans.

Adam Sandler's Barry Egan feels the weight of the world and it has crushed him into a corner, where he hides from everyone because he's sure they're like he sees his sisters, overbearing, obnoxious, and loud. They'll treat you badly, they'll laugh at you. Then they'll do something nice for you, only to pull the rug out from under you later so that they can laugh at you some more. He lashes out at inanimate objects when he can no longer control his rage, and this puts him even more on the outside, and makes other people look at him like the freak that he is sure he is after years of emotional abuse from his sisters.

I'm not saying that I understand Barry from a point of view of having lived his family and home life, but I do understand the avoidance of people when all you hear is abrasiveness and stupidity (and when everyone on the road is a friggin moron).

Sandler is wonderfully counterpointed in this film by Luis Guzman as his co-worker and seemingly only friend, who is one of the few nice people to Barry, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as a sleazy mattress salesman/phone sex business operator. However the films other star, Emily Watson who matches Sandler in mostly underplayed performance perforated by moments of high-emotion.

I would like to see the other side of this story, the story of Watson's Lena Leonard, I imagine that she is very much like Barry, and that in the times when she is out of frame her actions are much the same as his.

This is not Paul Thomas Anderson's best film (Magnolia, no matter what Kevin Smith says), but it is his shortest and most dense. Every moment is important, even the pauses. Small touches souch as the way the camera sometimes becomse erratic with Barry's swinging moods are perfectly done.

I give PunchDrunk Love a rating of Trunculent and declare it pleasant.

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