VALENTINE'S DAY SPECIALTuesday 14 February
Paul Thomas Anderson, USA 2002
After making the emotional rollercoaster with his 3-hour epic Magnolia (1999), director Paul Thomas Anderson surprised the world by saying that “Somebody I’d really like to use is Adam Sandler. I just cry with laughter in his movies.” The two went on to create a rom-com unlike no other.
Sandler plays the socially awkward Barry, who never seems to get the better of his low self-esteem, his many sisters interfering in his work and private life: he bottles so much frustration and silent anger, until one day at work, a car crashes, a harmonium is left on the sidewalk, and a mysterious and enticing stranger appears (played by Emily Watson), just like that.
Punch-Drunk Love starts off as one thing to become so much more of the other. Just listening to Jon Brion’s score, ranging from nervous breakdown to bursting romantic sweep, gives an insight to the many interiors of Adam Sandler’s twitchy Barry. And even a standard genre-definition like ‘rom-com’ can only limit this 90-minute film’s scope. Because why wouldn’t this be a superhero movie? If you think about it, isn’t Barry like a (Frequent Flyer Mile) Superman?
What remains are feelings of anxious hesitance, reckless assurance, and both quirky and creepy explosions of love in hues of red and blue. Barry at one point says “I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine”, which for my money might be the most brilliantly stupid utterance of the simple complexities of romance. Come and celebrate your Valentine’s Day with us at VERA this year and entice yourselves to the magic of Punch-Drunk Love.