“Punch Drunk Love” reaffirmed my faith in movies. With a combination of the unique style of filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson (“Magnolia”), the complexity of the performance and humor this film displays, “Punch Drunk Love” scores, displaying an originality lacking in today’s feature films.
Adam Sandler surprises audiences with his performance as Barry Egan. Barry is a warehouse manager who gets to work much too early and leaves much too late. He is overburdened by his seven sisters’ degrading attitudes. He is a loner. He does not like to travel; yet, he designs a plan to gain frequent flyer miles so he never has to buy a plane ticket again.
Barry is a quiet soul, who can be seen having sudden outbursts when something in his mind sets him off. He tries to avoid all people, including his family, but cannot seem to figure out how to escape them. Barry seems like he has it all together, but he longs for acceptance at any means possible.
His downfall occurs when one night he decides to call a phone sex line. Being apprehensive about calling in the first place, he finally decides to take part in the activity. Eventually, his innocent, immoral phone escapade turns into a nightmare when the operator decides to extort him for money.
The conflicts in Barry’s life begin to find resolution when he meets Lena (thoughtfully performed by Emily Watson), a beautiful businesswoman who tries to get Barry to come out of his shell. She is understanding to the differences that Barry exudes.
There is a wonderful chemistry between these two people as soon as they lay eyes on each other. She is an accepting person, a trait that Barry is unfamiliar with.
Lena’s positive attitude gives Barry the strength to fight the negativity in his life. He begins to stand up to his sisters and even ventures off to find the porn king (scene-stealing Phillip Seymour Hoffmann) that has extorted money from him. Through Lena’s love, Barry changes to the good man he knew he had the power to be.
“Punch Drunk Love” is a great, original film. Audiences will be surprised beyond belief at the complete change that comedian Sandler has made, creating a character of complex anger, sadness and desperation. This is a whole new Sandler.
One might not be able to embrace him as quickly as I did, but he is more relatable to people than in his past roles. Sander’s performance is real. Sandler has the same childlike persona that he has shown in his other films, but this film should prompt us to give his previous work a second look, with a more open mind.
Writer/director Anderson has created another work of art. The great thing about his new film is that he tries not to regurgitate themes from his previous work. His goal was to make a light-hearted, yet serious, romantic comedy which he has beautifully achieved. The use of the steady cam throughout the film provides the moviegoer with a personal viewing from your own mind into the life of Barry Egan, making the film special to individuals and their thoughts.
“Punch Drunk Love” is exceptional. It is an amazing account of the personality of the human spirit. Here is a film that can reaffirm the magic in acceptance, love and movies.