Punch-Drunk Love -- A Disconnected Modern Man

                                Punch-Drunk Love is a movie that represents a conceptual challenge: It is a movie directed by a respected auteur starring a comedian who specializes in playing childish dimwits. The comedian, around whom the film was singularly built was Adam Sandler, who, since the mid-1990s, and after this movie, has starred in a series of increasingly unfunny comedies that his fans love and everyone else loathes. The art-house movie director, Anderson, who has been hailed as one the most great young American directors, claims that he enjoys Sandler movies, and that he wrote Punch-Drunk Love with only Sandler in mind for the lead role. 

                       The persona of Sandler has mostly played as a soft-spoken guy, who occasionally throws a beating on someone. The movies are filled with lot of gags, but there was never any reasons behind his actions. Here, Paul Thomas Anderson has taken that variation and supplied it with a motive, into a story that is so fresh, so original, so twisted and insane .

     Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) is a eccentric small-time businessman, who sells wholesale bathroom supplies out of a warehouse. He is socially retarded and is subject to frequent emotional outbursts that can alternately result in an explosion of anger or an unrestrained bout of crying. Part of the reason for his violent bursts is his seven older sisters, who since childhood constantly fuss over him and nag him and refuse to leave him alone, and he also doesn't appear to have any friends except for his foreman Lance (Luis Guzman). 

           His sisters insists on setting him up with some of their co-workers but his temperance would rather keep him alone in his apartment to try phone sex. That is until he meets Elizabeth’s friend, Lena Leonard (Emily Watson). She is a shy, secretive woman, and they both fall in love with each other. Of course, the laws of romance, dictates that the path to love be strewn with obstacles.

               So, Barry is soon hassled by four blond brothers dispatched by a crooked, self-righteous phone-sex entrepreneur named Dean (Philip Seymour Hoffman). In a situation of loneliness, before Lena came into his life, Barry had surrendered his credit card number and other vital information to one of Dean's employees, and he has now become the fall-guy in a brutal extortion scheme.But, this plot summary can do no justice to the wild, sweet pleasures of ''Punch-Drunk Love.''

                  Adam Sandler dares conventional wisdom with an soulful, intelligent, painful performance - a portrait of a disconnected modern man. With Barry, Sandler haven't departed from his usual half-wit man-child persona, but what he does within that persona turns out be great. It's exceptional to see how genuinely disturbed Sandler's screen alter-egos can be when they are no longer viewed through the distorted lens of gleefulness. The wonderful Emily Watson -- best known for her sorrowful roles in grim dramas like "Angela's Ashes" and "Breaking the Waves" -- infuses Lena with an selfless femininity. She is the only character in the movie, who doesn’t try to dissect Barry’s psyche.  

                  Philip Seymour Hoffman in an extended cameo as a sleazy furniture salesman is glorious. The scene where he engages with Sandler in an profane shouting match is delightful. With quirky camera angles, offbeat music, swaths of color running across the screen director Anderson distinguishes it from a standard Hollywood fare. Even though the movie doesn't feel complete, Anderson has played with the conventions and had reinvented them at the same time. 

              It's unjust to compare Punch Drunk Love with Anderson's other features like 'Boogie Nights', 'Magnolia,' or 'There Will Be Blood,' because this isn't as serious or intense like those movies, and it has different goals. In Punch-Drunk Love, P.T. Anderson clearly conveys the grandness of romance and shows how love is the great equalizer that can calm us of our daily ills and bring out joys in our lives that we never knew were possible. The real strength of the movie is its willingness to take off on some unexpected angels. 

              Punch-Drunk Love is a romantic comedy, which travels into a relatively new territory. It is profoundly odd and imaginatively romantic. 


Punch-Drunk Love -- IMDb


Unknown said...

I like your blog, but you shouldn't post so many details about the movie plot. Spoils all the fun. If you must, then post spoiler warning

Arun Kumar said...

@Jaidev, Thanks for the comment. I will be careful in the future, by posting 'spoilers' in the part of plot.