Film Review – Punch-Drunk Love

As my last review was Reign Over Me, it seemed appropriate to follow up with Adam Sandler’s other big dramatic role in Punch-Drunk Love.  Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson who would later bring us There Will Be Blood, Punch-Drunk Love was an offbeat romance starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson.  Sandler played Barry Egan, a small-business owner who is attempting to deal with anger and depression issues while keeping all seven of his sisters off of his back.  The movie drew me in right away because of the somewhat bizarre opening.  It began with and maintained a somewhat quiet nature with minimal dialogue and music.  While it was a bit slow, the story was interesting enough to keep me watching.

As Egan, Sandler has been reviewed very strongly.  While I do agree that as with Reign Over Me, Sandler had a great departure from his medium and did well in the dramatic field, he played Charlie Fineman (from Reign Over Me) much better than that of Barry Egan.  Barry had wonderful and intense explosions of emotion, but it was nothing compared to that of Charlie’s deep depression and self-inflicted amnesia.  However, watching Sandler play Barry Egan certainly strengthened my belief in him as a dramatic actor.  From now on, I will follow him blindly down the road to any role he so chooses.  Emily Watson did the best she could in her small supporting actress role as his love interest.  I have not had the opportunity to see her in other films, but based on this, I would not be opposed to watching her in a starring role.  As well, Phillip Seymour Hoffman had a brief cameo and as he always does, greatly excelled.

In terms of directorial style, there were a few things similar between this and There Will Be Blood, a movie which you would not think to compare this to.  One thing that P.T. Anderson did in both was build a very slow and weird beginning, not letting viewers know what to think about the movie initially.  Another quality found in both was the rise of aggression and power which the lead actors experience throughout the movie.  It grows and grows until it boils over, exploding at which point the lead then becomes happier and more complacent than at the start of the film.  Unfortunately, these are the only two of his films which I have seen so I cannot make much of a comparison to any of his others.

Overall, this felt like the last few movies I have watched.  I appreciated the effort and I saw qualities in it that I liked, but I just did not like it that much.  I can understand all of the acclaim that it received though; it was a big first for Adam Sandler, playing a more dramatic role than in previous films.  In addition, it was a well put together film and as I said above a well directed film.  If you are a fan of indie feeling romances with a hint of the strange, then this is for you.  Think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with a much more indie feel.

3 out of 5 stars