Monday, July 14, 2008

PUNCH DRUNK LOVE (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002, USA) This is not an Adam Sandler movie. This is a Paul Thomas Anderson film. This demented and genuine love story is quite simple yet ubiquitously profound. Barry Egan is a socially awkward and repressed lonely guy who runs his own little business. He suffers from debilitating childhood anxiety instigated by his seven domineering sisters who continue to haunt his adult life. Sandler plays Egan with just the right amount of fear, emotional detachment, honesty, and intermittent rage with a nice guy veneer that he is easy to relate to: it is a sublime and near perfect performance. When he dials a sex phone line it’s not to get off but to make a confidential human connection, to just talk and share a normal conversation with a woman. It’s a very sad but powerful insight into his character. Egan finally meets a woman (despite his sister's intentions) and the story is about his struggle for identity and freedom from his past. Anderson’s creative inspiration must have been Krzysztof Kieslowski’s TROIS COULEURS: BLEU because that particular color dominates the entire film: note the many blue lens flairs. I believe the color subliminally represents the source of his childhood trauma: the Pleiades is a star cluster known as the Seven Sisters and burn a hot blue! PUNCH DRUNK LOVE is a symphonic poem about the beauty of love but also the hardships and failures of a blossoming affair. (A)

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