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What a blast.
Let's get the two small negatives out of the way. The first one is THAT awkward character. Thought it was done okay, and the audience in my theater - 20 and 30 parisians - laughed awkwardly at the racism on display, not what he said, so thumbs up I guess. Still the scenes could have been done better, maybe with more exaggeration and more reactions by Gary Valentine. The other issue is that the ending felt a bit weirdly cut.
That's about it. The rest of the movie fucking rules. Had not gotten out of a theater with such strong feelings since the remaster of In The Mood for Love. Felt high, or in love, or both when getting out, and the feeling is still lasting a couple of hours after. The film perfectly captures that feeling when you feel an attraction to someone, the hopes, the disappointments, and sometimes the games that come along.
Cooper Hoffman and Alan Haim are so good in this, hard to believe they're not seasoned actors. They felt perfect for the role, and the opening scene alone has an insane level of chemistry.
This is all obviously helped by PTA's direction. Fantastic tracking shots are on par for the course, and I thought the use of closeups were so effective in this one. There is a moment when "Life on Mars?" was playing when I randomly got chills. Knew then this was brilliant.
And let's not forget the script. The film is really funny most of the time, crazy when needed and sweet in a couple crucial moments. Plus the secondary characters in this are hilarious. And the soundtrack rules! And the cinematography and the editing and well everything in this rules honestly.
The result of all this is a film that feels like a mix between his Boogie Nights' days, the quirky love story of Punch-Drunk Love and Inherent Vice's insistence for pushing a mood. And what a result. It may not be for everyone, but if you like this movie you're probably going to be intoxicated by it during two hours.
In short, what better than a masterpiece by Paul Thomas Anderson to start the year!