Urban Cinefile
"He would try and tear off my ear....I would try and gouge out his eyes...cut...then some more moves. And all the time we were trying not to laugh."  -Gregory Peck on his fight scene with Larry Olivier in The Boys from Brazil
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) is a misfit, and despite a handful of sisters, heís not comfortable around women. He works in a warehouse selling plumbing and other hardware items, and is fascinated by a frequent flyer promotion run in conjunction with a food brand. He discovers a loophole and buys the groceries to earn a million FF miles. And one day one of his sisters introduced him to Lena (Emily Watson), who takes a shine to this oddball. Meanwhile, Barry gets into all sorts of trouble after a phone sex session, when the sex worker starts a small time extortion game on Barry, with the help of her boyfriend (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Barry finds that he seems to need Lena more and more.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There are no frogs raining down from the sky in Punch-Drunk Love, but P. T. Anderson still manages to provoke and surprise us with his cinematic business as he goes about a unique love story. Unique it is for more reasons than I care to expound on here, because you really do have to be there for much of this. Thatís the point of cinema, after all, to envelop us with sensations that come out of the story. Crazy, quirky, contrary and inventive are all adjectives that approximate Andersonís style here, so no wonder the Cannes film festival jury awarded him the Best Director award. There is brio and energy here, a dismissive approach to the conventions of editing a story, and profound use of music and sound. Indeed, the sound is levelled several notches up, all for good reason. This is a larger than life love story hiding in an odd-bins character store. Sandler and Watkins are a pair like a walking boot and a fluffy slipper, but thatís what makes it interesting. Inspired by the actors, he wrote these parts for them specifically; and the reason is simply their appeal as actors, not their natural fit. Nothing in this romance is worked in familiar patterns, and the sweetness is hidden deep inside the freaky and unpredictable characters. Comedic in an intense and edgy way, Punch-Drunk Love blends the strangeness of truth (the FF promotion is based on fact) and the strangeness of folk. You will never be ready for Punch-Drunk Love.

Review by Louise Keller:
In a surprising departure from the intense Boogie Nights and Magnolia, versatile P.T. Anderson delights us again with a left of field romantic comedy this time, that stretches the genre right to its limit. Inspired by a magazine article about an engineer who accumulated over a million frequent flyer miles by purchasing thousands of supermarket puddings, this is an Adam Sandler comedy that is unlike any other. Yes, Sandlerís delivery is still deadpan, but beneath that blank exterior lies a grumbling volcano of anger, passion and unexpressed emotions. And we do get to see all those emotions erupt. This is a story about a man with awkward pauses and whose psychotic anger erupts in uncontrollable violence. His conversation is punctuated by phrases like ĎIím sorry,í and he is a complex, obsessive-compulsive individual who lies and just canít help his inappropriate behaviour. Itís as though he lives in another plane. Punch Drunk Love takes us to this Ďother planeí where life is anything but normal. Barry is the kind of guy who might suddenly smash all the windows in the house, after which he is effusively apologetic. Anderson is a keen Sandler fan and wrote the part expressly for him, obviously eager to show the world a different side of this brazen performer who began his career as a stand-up comic at the age of seventeen. And Sandler impresses greatly Ė this is a haunting performance of a character that you will not forget. Emily Watson, for whom the role of Lena was also written, is complex and lovely, and makes her interest in Barry credible. A compelling and curious mix of minimalist production design, edgy percussive sounds and lollypop colours embraces this truly unusual love story of two misfits that somehow find each other. Anderson has created a stylised film that jumps quickly from scene to scene with its unconventional editing style. The story never flows smoothly and we are never exactly sure what is going to happen next. The characters are often shot in silhouette against a light backdrop, accentuating the private world that they both share. Itís a sweet, surreal and quirky love story that will make your heart dance.

Email this article

Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0


CAST: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzman, Mary Lynn Rajskub

PRODUCER: Joanne Sellar, Daniel Lupi

DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson

SCRIPT: Paul Thomas Anderson


EDITOR: Leslie Jones

MUSIC: Jon Brion


RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes



VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: October 15, 2003

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020