The only good thing that I've discovered about Inherent Vice not being released in Australia until February is that it gives me plenty of time to review Paul Thomas Anderson's other films. Don't ask me why I chose to review this first, but go with it anyway. Punch-Drunk-Love follows the story of Barry Egan (Adam Sandler), a lonely business man who's incredibly troubled. One day, Barry is set up with Lena Leonard (Emily Watson), a Brit who finds Barry attractive. At the same time as this, Barry is also forced to deal with a phone hooker whom Barry called up one night while he was feeling lonely, but cancelled his credit card before they could charge him.
You may need to sit down to hear this, but... Adam Sandler actually gives a good performance in this movie. No, actually Adam Sandler gives a sensational performance in this movie. I feel like crying when I see Adam Sandler do dramas. Not because he's terrible in them, but because he's amazing in them. He's beyond capable of being a good actor, yet he wastes his time doing rubbish like Grown Ups or Blended, the second of which I never intend on watching. Ever. In my life. Unless, of course, it's a matter of life or death. Adam Sandler doesn't just suit the role of Barry, he is Barry, well I don't have confirmation of the mental illness aspect, but just go along with it. Again. He brings this character to life, and because of how Paul Thomas Anderson-y this film is, he even gets more than a few chances at boasting off his comedic charm, which is always lost in his actual comedies.
The script is full of wit and charm. Punch-Drunk-Love is a very likeable movie. In fact, it may just be one of the most likeable movies I've ever seen. It's just so odd, unique and entertaining, all while maintaining a sense of likability. Aiding this is the little things. The habits of Barry or the humane things he does in his daily life, whether this be purchasing a tonne of pudding to get enough points for a plane ticket or if it's taking in a random piano he finds on the street outside his workplace, just add to how great this film is. Even his violent outbursts have a sense of life.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman's role, although brief, was utterly brilliant. His famous "Shut up! Shut-shut-shut-shut up!" speech a stand out, Hoffman is masterful. He suits the role, much like Sandler does with his, and his character is just as violent, if not more violent than Barry. They've both got a temper and this temper, when confronting each other, just bursts from the screen. There's a conversation the two have towards the end of the film, the contents of which I will not spoil, that has the two just bumping off of each other, attempting not to show awareness of how damn entertaining their scenes are. Somehow, they pull it off, and these scenes turn into some of the best scenes in the film.
This film allows you time to become connected to the characters. Anderson creates a strong emotional connection between the audience and Barry, or even Lena. Right from the first scene, which shows Barry on the phone with a pudding company and it's oh-so-delightful and relatable to watch, I knew that this was a character I could connect to. It was a character I knew I wanted to spend time with, and I did. I did spent time with him and I'd be happy to do it all over again and again and again. It's a film that does that to you. Watching it once is amazing, but it's not enough. You want more and you're probably going to end up getting more.
Paul Thomas Anderson directs this film with magnificence. Seeings as how I'm reviewing his entire filmography in the coming months it makes sense that I should discuss his quality of directing. I won't compare it to any of his other films as I haven't honestly seen too many of them, but in Punch-Drunk-Love it is, like most things in this film are, superb. The shots, the pacing, everything. It's all amazing, making this yet another brilliant film from a brilliant director.
To sum up, Punch-Drunk-Love is led by some sensational performances, surprisingly even Adam Sandler gives a great one. The film is likeable, witty, full of charm, relatable, innocent and magnificently directed. Bring on Inherent Vice!
4 1/2 Stars