I’d never thought Adam Sandler of all people could bring about one of the most emotionally charged performances in the history of the romantic genre, but the man appears to be full of surprises. Not all of those surprises are necessarily good ones, but you can’t knock him for his incredible turn in Paul Thomas Anderson’s debut, Punch-Drunk Love.
A phenomenal performance from rarely funny man Adam Sandler pushes the film to new heights, with his role as Barry Egan being his most genuine and enjoyable portrayal of all time. His chemistry with the excellently cast Emily Watson is a driving force of the movie. Their chemistry and individual performances are stunning, and one of the key reasons Punch-Drunk Love works so well. With these performances, the film is elevated further than just a romance movie, it’s a genre breaking powerhouse.
Most of this also comes down to the genuine brilliance of Paul Thomas Anderson’s direction, which sparks inspired shots. Blending colour, sound and practical prominence in the cinematography department, Punch-Drunk Love relies on still shots, symmetry and very bright colours which often contrast with the drab, mundane settings these characters find themselves in.
A nice and brief appearance from Phillip Seymour Hoffman rounds the movie off quite well for me personally. He’s one of my favourite actors, and his mini supporting role here is great in driving one of the many subplots surrounding this movie. Some of the subplots perform better than others, but there’s not one that disappoints. Egan’s life is in a constant threat of turmoil, sporadically spiralling and getting the better of him. It’s the talent of Sandler that really sells these moments.
By far one of the funniest pieces of film Anderson has made, but that’s not saying much since his other movies are straight shooting dramas. This may not be the strongest Anderson movie, but specifically in the writing department, this is by far his most interesting work. Filled to the brim with witty and sharp dialogue, strong character development and ultimately a sporadically tense plot that never has a dull moment, his script works wonders in a conventionally short running time.
Stunning, chaotic, beautiful and funny, Punch-Drunk Love is a superb piece of film. A real achievement for everyone involved, who all work tirelessly to bring together one of the greatest romantic movies of the 20th century. An uncharacteristically strong role from Adam Sandler carries the movie, which banks heavily on the ever-impressive direction of Paul Thomas Anderson, a director who is fast becoming one of my favourites.