*** Official "PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Pat Ford, Oct 12, 2002.

  1. Pat Ford

    Pat Ford Stunt Coordinator

    Nov 4, 1998
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    Wow, just saw “Punch-Drunk Love” and I have to say I’m still not exactly sure what I think of it. Might have to see it again to really form my final opinion.

    For starters, it is VERY strange. I think it’s Anderson’s least commercial yet. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t see this doing very well at all once it hits the mainstream.

    On the plus side, Sandler is very good (and I generally cannot stand him). Watson is as charming as ever. The look, feel and sound of the film is unique. There’s definitely something potentially very good going on, but I’m not exactly sure what. And maybe that’s the problem I’m having. I admire what Anderson was going for here, but I don’t think he really nailed it on an emotional or comedic level. But at the same time it is an exciting and original take on the romantic comedy.

    Hmmm...Like I said, I probably need to see it again and let it digest a little longer, but this one is really going to divide audiences.

    Good luck.

    NOTE: This is from a big fan of all previous PTA works.
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Punch-Drunk Love". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
  3. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

    Jun 19, 1999
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    I thought Punch-Drunk Love was simply fantastic.
    It's very hard to categorize this film into any specific genre since it's a mix of so many different things.
    It has comedic, romantic and dramatic elements, while at the same time it can be a bit disturbing.
    One this is certain, it is original.
    There were many funny bits of dialog which were played out perfectly by Sandler. The critics were right, Adam Sandler gives an incredible performance. P.T. Anderson managed to strip down Sandler's typical character and bring out and perfect his shyness and anger.
    It's quite a beautiful film.
    I believe that another viewing will really help me appreciate the film even further. Plus I always find that quality films plays in my head for days after viewing it - which Punch-Drunk Love started to do immediately after I left the theatre.
    P.T. Anderson has established himself as one of the best directors now. He has great vision and gets the most out of his cast and crew.
    It's amazing that he can change gears and offer something so different than what he has in the past, and yet still manage to maintain his high level of quality filmaking.
    So far, this is my favorite film of 2002.
    Highly recommended.
  4. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

    Dec 31, 2001
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    I LOVED this movie! Punch-Drunk Love is, I think, PT Anderson's MOST commercial movie, but that's not a bad thing. I just think it will appeal to more people than his other films. After seeing P-DL, that's 4 for 4, meaning that I've liked every one of his films, so that puts PT Anderson in my "Can Do No Wrong" category.
    Punch-Drunk Love is a delightful film, a romantic comedy that's slightly off-kilter. I'd recommend going into it with as little knowledge as possible about what happens, and then just let it flow, go where the director takes you. The people who won't like it are those who want to fight against that flow. Take it as it comes, don't over-analyse, and just enjoy, that's my advice.
    I never thought I would pay to see an "Adam Sandler film" but that shows the truth of the saying "Never say never." This is not an "Adam Sandler film," it's a "PT Anderson film" that stars Adam Sandler, and Sandler is very, very good. After a somewhat distracting first few minutes, I forgot who I was watching, and became very involved in the character Barry Egan. I felt sorry for him, I cried for him, I felt joy for him, I cared about what happened to him. Color me surprised.
    I'll also see it again when it opens, and like Marc, it's now my favorite film of this year so far.
  5. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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    Astonishing. Who would have thought that a story so fundamentally trite could be rendered utterly new, fresh and surprising? There are moments (including the opening) where you say to yourself, "What the hell was THAT?", but if you just let the movie unfold, it all holds together in a bizarre logic that is as much Sandler's as it is Anderson's. I don't think it's entirely fair to say that it isn't an "Adam Sandler film", though it's unlike any film he's ever done. It's more of a reimagining of the character that Sandler has played over and over again, and between them Anderson and Sandler find depths beyond anything I could have dreamed of.

    I have no idea how this will play with Sandler fans. In many ways, his character here is the dark underbelly of his earlier characters. For most of the film, he's a loser and a victim, and it can be painful to watch him try to put on a brave face. But then something unexpected intervenes, and . . . well, you'll see.

    Visually the film is a treat. I read one reviewer who commented on how wide the frame was. In fact, it's no wider than the standard 2.35:1 frame, but Anderson uses the space in creative ways that make you aware of the entire expanse. (Just as an example, look at the opening shot of Sandler sitting as his desk at the extreme left of the frame.) And I can't remember another film that so deliberately and creatively used lens flares as part of its visual design (check out the scene where Sandler's character first meets Emily Watson). Brilliant sound design as well, with wonderful and effective use of silence (an element much undervalued in the HT community, IMO).

  6. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

    Mar 7, 2001
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    Brooklyn, NY
    Real Name:
    Damin J. Toell
    A quickie review:
    Certainly an enjoyable film, with a great ability to convey romance, frustration, and paranoia. It did, however, try a little too hard to be quirky sometimes; it felt rather quirky for quirkiness sake. That aside, it's certainly a much more honest film than Magnolia's pretentious attempt at being Short Cuts II: The Next Day. P.T. Anderson (and Bob Elswit) fans will certainly find something worthwhile, although I'm not quite sure if much of Sandler's fan base will find it to be of interest (even though his character actually isn't that far from the paradigmatic Sandler protagonist). As for the rest of the main cast, Emily Watson was radiant and Philip Seymour Hoffman was hysterical, but I only wish that Luis Guzman had been given some more dialogue to work with.
  7. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

    Jun 27, 1999
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    Punch-Drunk Love provides a lot for the viewer to chew on, and to be honest, my one viewing (complete with a 30 minute break between the first and second reels) probably isn't enough to do it justice. It's an odd film that seems to be deliberately (or, at least, potentially) offputting in the beginning.

    I'll leave plot synopses and such to others. What I was left with was more of an impression, a tone, a spirit than a story, but I've been surprised and pleased to find how that has blossomed in the days since I've seen Punch-Drunk Love. I left the theater having enjoyed the picture but not being wowed by it. As I've thought about it, I've come to realize how special and truly remarkable it is.

    I've disliked Sandler's other films--make that strongly disliked most of his prior work--but I think Anderson, who is by no means conventional, was the right person to challenge him into stretching himself. (I've felt that since Sandler makes movies with his buddies that the often apparent laziness--and even boredom Sandler sometimes conveys on-screen--doesn't push him to try hard enough, that he's making essentially "home" movies with friends. Here he has to perform, even if it is the same character type. Anderson gives him a character to play rather than a character type. That much of the role is internalized is critical to the film and Sandler's performance. Rather than the needy protagonists who practically beg for the audience's love, here Sandler comes across as a sad, lonely individual doesn't know how to ask for what he wants. It's a good performance and certainly the best of his career.

    Emily Watson may not fit the conventional definition of Hollywood beauty, but she is so radiant in this film it's impossible not to fall in love with her at the sight of her, not to mention through her actions.

    Punch-Drunk Love is awkward, just like Barry, which is, of course, the point, but I don't know how audiences are going to react to it. My initial impression is that Sandler fans will detest it, but then again, so may most regular mainstream moviegoers. It's a magical film about the transforming power of love, and it's made in such a way that is startingly original, unusual, and captivating. Anderson makes exceptional use of the frame, and Michael's right about those lens flares. Jon Brion's score is an integral component also.

    Funny how I left feeling I'd seen a good film and a few days later feel I've seen a great one. It's an impressive achievement for all involved.
  8. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

    Nov 5, 1998
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    Punch Drunk Love 10 of 10
    Bottom line, it's a wonderful film about an odd man finding love and taking control of his life.
    Now, a few things about Paul Thomas Anderson and how I view his work compared to this film.
    To be honest, PTA bugged me with how he handled his last 2 films. I found his work to be too indulgent. Sure he had these amazing shots, great characters, solid dialog, and some pretty terrific scenes. BUT, he seemed to have a problem with liking every different cool look or neat emotional effect he was getting with all these shots that he would end up using all of them with each scene rather than just picking the one that worked best of the group.
    So we would see something pretty cool, but then almost as if he thought we'd missed it, we would find ourselves seeing it from yet another angle/style. In the end his scenes ran too long and the dynamic of the film slowed way down.
    But now PTA seems to have found his discipline. Punch Drunk Love has him picking just the right shots and only those shots, then he moves on to the next scene or emotion. It's not just about a brisk pace, it's also about staying true to one mood. The results are a spectacular home run for direction in a film.
    I have no doubts he will not get such a credit from the Academy as the film probably features characters and emotions just a bit too outside the norm to be embraced on that scale. But that won't mean he won't deserve it. He might get competition that is his equal this year, but I can't possibly imagine it being surpassed in anyway.
    He pushes in at just the right time, cuts at the right time, goes silent when he needs it, builds energy at the right time with some great tracking shot, etc.
    On top of all that he is blessed with a cast that is stellar in committing to the oddity of the characters. Not in some colorful nutty mannerism type of performances, but with a honest subtlety. What makes this most amazing is that every character in the film IS ODD, they are real in a movie style of real. That is they aren't real, but they have the illusion of honesty that only great cinema can create.
    You have probably heard that Sandler is good. Well that is 100% true, and the film hinges on that. But you also have yet another outstanding performance from Emily Watson (who managed to shine out even in the Gosford Park cast) as well as Luis Guzman. Philip Seymour Hoffman needs nothing said about him any more because everyone should now know that the man can bring it whenever needed. A nice surprise was Mr. Show feature player Mary Lynn Rajskub as one of Adam's sisters, she is a match for Sandler on screen as they establish a solid dynamic between their characters.
    There are lots of laughs to be had in the film (which surprised me), yet none of them come from anything close to typical Sandler humor. I was also touched by the romance.
    Lastly I need to briefly mention the score. It's not just good, it's great. It's creatively used to give the film some mixed moods or to shift gears when needed.
    Quirky is not a fair assessment of this film. Being John Malkovich was quirky. This is more than that. It's a quirky story about an oddly troubled character directed with a masterstroke.
    BTW, what an awesome last line:
    Here we go
  9. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    My 2 word review: Seriously Whimsical.

    I found the characters to be archetypes, not very fleshed out, but what's good about it is that PT Anderson has finally figured out the meaning of "economy" and cuts right to the essence of these archetypes for the characters in the film. No longer does Anderson feel the need to fill in all the gory character details that either lead to a meandering narrative, or turns characters into unsympathetic ones.

    In P-DL, Anderson has found a way to cut to the emotion of the given moment of when love blooms against all odds to bring Barry and Leena together. Each of these 2 characters takes chances in finding love in spite of their psychological patterns and ruts, all for the slim hope of finding that one person, right or wrong, to share in each other's lives.

    Throughout the first half of the film, Anderson even sets up a reaction that he wisely sidesteps because it shows the maturation of Barry by not "going there".

    There are many visuals in the film that will creep into your subconscious once you see it, and you can see some good directorial choices at work here. Also, Anderson has fun putting a camera in shots where reflections might give the camera away, but it never does.

    All in all, it's a rather odd film, but you come away with the feeling that the emotional content given off by the characters are true and honest, even if they aren't very well fleshed out in terms of heavy characterizations.

    I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
  10. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

    Mar 4, 2000
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    League City, Texas
    Real Name:
    Craig Seanor
    I've been trying to sort out my feelings about PDL for over a day now. I can't say I was as bowled over as many here. There was certainly much to admire - I loved the way PTA used the scope frame - some of the scenes in Hawaii are brilliant. The performances were all good to great (more on that below).
    But there's much I had trouble with. A lot of the music didn't work for me - as with Magnolia, PTA's penchant for mixing his score so aggressively to the front is something I have to get used to. I hated the "I want to smash your face" conversation - it really pulled me out of the good feeling I had about the characters at that moment.
    The high point of the film is Emily Watson. I've always enjoyed her work in the past, but here I simply fell in love with her. She's not a conventional beauty, but there's something about the way she looked at Sandler several times in this film - it was as if you could see straight through to her soul.
    Sandler was good, but not, I think, great. I think that this performance was simply a better focusing of the standard Adam Sandler schtick - and since I am not really a fan, there was nothing here that knocked me out.
    If there's anything unfortunate about PTA's desire to make a 90-minute film, it's that the rich supporting performances we usually get from his casts are pretty much missing here. Guzman & Hoffman are fine, but they are given so little to do they barely register. This is really a two-person film.
    One thing is for sure - like Magnolia before it, PDL is calling me back to the theater. I think the film demands a second viewing. Until then, I'll give it 8 out of 10.
  11. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    I had actually seen this earlier but had held off commenting until I had seen it a second time around to find out whether I had missed anything after raves touting it as one of the best films of the year. But there were no new revelations on my second viewing.
    Punch-Drunk Love, for me, works more as a character study than a romantic comedy. As a romance, the film runs into a major issue of the underdeveloped Lena (played nicely by the arthouse darling Emily Watson) and the reasons she falls for Adam Sandler’s Barry. This is a legitimate concern and understandably, can be hard to overcome. However, as a character study, this issue is hardly relevant.
    Sandler gives a very mannered and convincing performance as a man dealing with repressed anger and other social and personal issues, finding love and making peace with himself.
    In this outing, Paul Thomas Anderson looks like he may have been influenced by and borrowed some from Jean-Luc Godard especially with his use of the camera. One can even say that there is a little bit of self-indulgence involved but without being overbearing. In addition, the use of the percussion music to generate tension and confusion was very effective. Symbolism abound but none too mystifying.
    Bottom line: Good but not extraordinary.
    (BTW, not that it matters, I did love Magnolia).
  12. Rob P S

    Rob P S Screenwriter

    Mar 22, 2002
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    **** out of ****

    One of my favorite films of the year.
  13. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

    Sep 15, 1999
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    This is easily one of the best love stories that I have ever seen, if not the best. I also love the music. I'm not a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson's two previous movies. 4 out of 4

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