Well, it’s an Adam Sandler movie. What do you expect? On the other hand, it’s Paul Thomas Anderson as the director. At first, there is a feeling between doubt and interest in one of this rom-com movie. Doubt it because Sandler always casts in loose comedy films and is interesting because this is a serious drama film from Adam Sandler. For me, romance isn’t my thing except for anime. So, I have plenty of favorite romance anime I can mention. Romance films always haunt me with a variety of clichés, in general, I often see on television or anywhere. Even in real life did the same as well. But, I feel like I just want to wreck this movie with a sledgehammer because I freaking love this movie. I love it for the first time I watch and love it again when I watch it for the second time.
This film is like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. Many compare Adam Sandler’s acting with Jim Carrey’s. Both of them also cast serious characters. It’s as serious as Sandler in this film too. Paul Thomas Anderson, on the other hand, considers this film as an arthouse Adam Sandler film. Roger Ebert said that this is the most suitable film criticism if you want to analyze everything considering “Punch-Drunk Love” is really a very simple film. But, its simplicity is what makes this film so beautiful. However, the pessimistic question of most people is: is Adam Sandler able to surpass Jim Carrey?
Adam Sandler as Barry Egan is a businessman of the bathtub and various other toiletries. In a way, Barry is a “freak” from the view of all his sisters and his family. He is an introverted guy and unable to get along with the people around him. He is very difficult to control his emotions wherever and whenever. Making him depressed and crying often, Barry needs friends to tell. Next, he decided to contact a phone-sex line but it was a fatal mistake. The service forcibly solicits some money by the woman who knows his identity. His problem was at the peak until he met Emily Watson as Lena Leonard.
Just amazing how Adam Sandler, considering this Paul Thomas Anderson film too, exceeds an expectation I never thought of. Sandler plays a man with so many social problems. It’s not easy when being a character full of depression and emotional. Importantly, he is so likable to be different from the main characters included in romance films. He is so relatable you can even understand when you experience it too. Barry is likely to be weird and funny but we never know what he really thinks. Seeing Adam Sandler as a serious character for more than an hour seemed so fast. Time runs so fast.
He is like Tom Cruise in “Magnolia” where the director gives the actor the opportunity to give the best with all directions. “Punch-Drunk Love” has many unique dialogues and scenes. The first sequence of the movie explains that this is an abnormal film. Actually, too, it’s hard to say comedy but more to satire. The first scene shows a quite surprising accident for a romance film like this. Someone accidentally left a piano right in front of him. But, what is that for? However, the accident fulfilled all the scenes of this film either with comedy intentions or accidentally. Like for example, the one takes sequence when Barry first called a phone-sex line, the camera was accidentally bumped. Anderson really likes it and tries to create a similar effect a second time.
“Punch-Drunk Love” actually still has a touch of comedy. It’s also not pure drama. This movie is quite natural and sarcastic. And again, Adam Sandler is able to bring serious character. He is in the midst of humiliation and it seems like all of his sisters have the same thoughts on Barry. He is sad, frustrated, angry, but also in love. This film has its own features, namely simplicity. But, it was the simplicity. It made this film so sweet and innocent. Similarly, the chemistry between Barry and Lena is relatively yet innocent. There is no exaggerated romantic scene or cliché. It’s like you feel weird but the oddity suddenly turns into awkwardness.
This also seems to be a slightly overlooked movie when compared to “Hard Eight”, Anderson’s theatrical debut, and “Inherent Vice”. “Punch-Drunk Love” is rich in everything from cinematography, set, costume, score, and acting. There is a lot of symbolism and very beautiful painting portraits. Like Barry’s blue suit he always wears and ties that always change its color. Or also the color blue surrounds Barry’s life or the red and purple dress worn by Lena. What about the colorful transition? Because love makes you drunk? You fall in love because you get punch after drunk? Maybe, it’s a blow in the head when you fall in love. Jon Brion’s score is so unique and really reminds me of Jonny Greenwood. There are so many long takes in this movie such as the scene when Barry is filled with all kinds of problems and busyness.
“Punch-Drunk Love” is a rom-com that’s so different in all kinds of different points of view. It’s like you want to dance with such love as Sandler’s Barry who is also happy and strong after falling in love. This film has its own visualization and Sandler is really a star of the movie. The cinematography, plot, script, character, music, you can count it and analyze it all the way. It’s really an arthouse Adam Sandler film. And again, will he still play the witty character yet humongous comedy movie or he starts to see this movie while thinking of making something new? No one knows.
4 out of 5 stars.