Tuesday, June 06, 2006

PTA's Punch Drunk Love

There has never been a director quite like Paul Thomas Anderson, and for that reason alone his films are worth their weight in gold. One of the best moments in a film-goers weekly adventure to the cinema is when one week, one lucky day, they are treated to something so original, so astounding, so go-for-broke, grab-them-by-the balls gleeful that you are gasping for breath when the whole thing is through.
If I have to compare PTA's Punch Drunk Love to anything, I'd say it's a healthy mixture of Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! and the romanticism of the films from the fifties, with a hint of Kubrick's style invoked throughout. That's all open to interpretation of course, and you'll see different influences when you view it... but when you watch it, when you let all of the passion and emotion take over you, you realize that what your witnessing is totally different from anything put together in previous cinema.
Anderson puts his manic overdrive to the test in this film, invoking every scene with an energy similar to being on meth. It's by turns exhausting and exhilarating. There is an insane amount of randomness in this (the piano, the items he sold... some little thing said or done is intriguing because of its purpose, or lack of) but it adds to the films momentum. I'm not big on one-note characters, and am especially not keen to those who have no redeemable features, so you can imagine that I felt the sisters were nothing more than raging cunts. You look at this poor man, and you gawk in awe at the fact that he survived existing with them. It's just mind-blowing.
The performances are very strong, and Sandler does his best work ever. (A given, naturally... when you're in a film of Anderson's, it's doesn't really need to be said that he's gonna bring you to the top of your game.) Everyone else plays second-fiddle to his instability, but damn if they don't give it all they've got.
I wasn't sure how I felt about the film halfway through. The lack of explanation with the sisters, the seemingly random moments, all gave me a sense of weariness in addition to the increasing intensity with each passing moment. Does the film redeem itself? It does. Any moment having to deal with the romance between Watson and Sandler works wonders, and it's really only after he starts to come out of his shell that I managed to fall for the film. I'm of the sort who never likes to see good people get mishandled, even in film, and when I'm forced to I tend to get rather annoyed/distraught. And I did so here, but only till the moment he told off his sister in Hawali. You see the change in him, the deserved confidence and the knowledge that he has someone backing him up.
It's always been my personal belief that anyone can act out their wishes or their desires so long as they have someone behind them. We are only as good as the people we have in our lives, and we're only as strong as they are close behind us. When Lena is hurt in the car accident, you witness a positive change in Barry almost instinaniously. He learns that the anger of the human being is reserved until the moment where we see a threat being posed towards something or someone we care about. When such a thing occurs, the limitless strength of the person comes into play, and it's a glorious sight to see.
There is such an exuberant and passionate edge to this film that you can't really define it. While I do prefer his Magnolia to this film (its scope is larger, its intent in braver, its focus is more precise), there is a manic energy to this film... an entire, beautiful passion that lacks in so many feautres nowadays, that you forgive its faults. It has managed to combine color, clarity, sound and sight into an orgasmic mix of love and free-falling life that transcends typical cinema. It may not be perfect in terms of a film, but as a feeling? As an expression? It's quite, quite brilliant.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I very much enjoy your passionate writing. You should really post more, I'd love to hear your opinions on anything.

Now, I have yet to see Punch-Drunk Love, but I certainly intend to. Both Boogie Nights and, on a greater scale, Magnolia moved, entertained, and shocked me significantly, so I can imagine it will be worth the watch (especially given your critique).

PS: Um, you're adorable!

7:30 PM  
Blogger Beau said...

I've yet to see Boogie Nights, belive it or not. (It's on my queue at Netflix).

Thank you so much for your comment, it's greatly appreciated. Might I add thank you as well, for your reviews. Reading through them, your precision and your focus was so dead-on that it's actually inspired me to work harder on reviews; so, rather unintentionally, i'm looking deeper into the film now in terms of how it was made, what it was going for and how it succeeded or failed. so thank you for that, :)

and for the P.S., that was appreciated as well. ;)

11:07 PM  
Blogger DL said...

Yeah, that's a great review. I just watched Punch-Drunk Love last night and read this review right afterwards and totally agree with everything. It's dead-on.

More please!

4:34 PM  

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