Punch-Drunk Love

Punch-Drunk Love ★★★½

Coming from the back-to-back success of Boogie Nights & Magnolia, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson brings his sweeping cinematic vision to the genre of rom-com with his odd but original take which stars Adam Sandler in the lead role. And with that casting decision alone, the expectations went so low that it allowed this auteur the creative freedom he needed to film it as he pleases without the burden of dealing with previous films' reputations.

Punch-Drunk Love tells the story of Barry Egan; a psychologically troubled guy who grew up with seven overbearing sisters, leads a very lonely life & happens to show fits of rage every now n then. The plot mainly covers his romantic adventure with the woman who has a crush on him, while he is being extorted by a phone-sex line scheme & also deals with a subplot of him purchasing an unusually large amount of pudding.

Written & directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, this film shows an entirely different side of the director with its light-hearted but still intriguing & layered narration, short runtime, distinct visual style, eclectic humour & bold casting choices. Still, the film isn't entirely devoid of his usual trademarks & features many single long-takes throughout its runtime. Cinematography, editing & music have a different vibe to it but it all kind of suits the story depicted here.

Coming to the performances, Adam Sandler is the one who ends up stealing the show for the person considered by many to be one of the worst actors alive surprised everyone with an unexpected & fabulously layered performance that exhibits a stunning level of maturity, depth & emotional range in his work. Emily Watson is reliable as expected & although Philip Seymour Hoffman has a relatively small role, he somehow manages to make a lasting impact in the film.

On an overall scale, Punch-Drunk Love may not have the supreme quality of Anderson's other works but is nonetheless a refreshing take on the subject of love that manages to avoid its genres cliché and is arguably the director's most enjoyable film to date. It deserves to be seen solely for the performance Anderson was able to extract from Sandler & I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone. In Paul Thomas Anderson's own words, "Punch-Drunk Love is an art house Adam Sandler film". And you dare not miss it.

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