I absolutely and utterly love Punch-Drunk Love
and I am a fan of Adam Sandler films. What can I say? His films make me laugh and that's good enough for me. It was only a few years ago that my my then house mates and I would watch one or two Adam Sandler films a week (I'd love to see people recoiling in horror from the computer screens at this statement).
As I've mentioned on other threads, I think Paul Thomas Anderson is a great director and writer whose films are mainly concerned with humans and their very complicated relationships. He manages to make stunning visual and audio journeys out of these well-trodden themes and Punch-Drunk Love
differs somewhat from his other films.
This film feels like much more of an arthouse indie flick than his other sprawling Altmanesque excursions and he took a sort of risk casting Sandler as his lead, but I think it pays off brilliantly and I also think that it's a shame that Emily Watson's excellent performance is overlooked (and Philip Seymour Hoffman's brief, but hilarious turn).
Barry's naivety and inability to express himself emotionally, which results in his violent tantrums is a trope that Anderson explores to its fullest and I for one couldn't help but like Barry for all of his apparent weirdness. I mean it's his oddness and gullibility that help catch his true love and create the foundations for numerous hilarious situations throughout the film.
The actual love story is a real beauty for me too with all the ups and downs that one hopes from a romance, but with added surreality and often jarring emotional situations: why whisper sweet nothings when you can whisper violent threats to your lover? Barry's and Lena's love for each other is really palpable and I felt fully entangled in their crazy yet sweet romance (a bit like Clarence and Alabama in True Romance
The use of the Olive Oil 'He Loves Me' song from Altman's Popeye
is a lovely touch as well, with Shelly Long's gentle warble adding a comic, but wistful element.
In fact Jon Brion's score is one of my all time favourite's in particular the segment where it doesn't let up for 10 mins with loads of crazy machine-like whirrs and bleeps and off percussion sounds - wonderfully delirious.
Finally the visual look of the film is magnificent, it's all about the manipulation of contrast and brightness and if you read the DVD sleeve notes it says:Notes for enjoyment:
Get Barry's suit blue, blue, blue. Don't be shy.
Get Barry's shirt white. Don't be afraid to let it bloom a bit.
Turn up the contrast. Make sure your blacks are black and listen to loud
These really do make a phenomenal difference, but if you don't like it then you don't like it I suppose.
I'm going to watch it again right now