Wednesday, 28 July 2010

So I watched this last night...

Punch Drunk Love has to be one of the best American independent movies made in the last 10 years. And that's not because I worship the ground Paul Thomas Anderson walks on (although I do, but that's besides the point).

I guess the reason I like it so much is it's complex yet simplistic approach to the tired romantic comedy formula. Inspired by a real life story about a civil engineer who stumbled upon a lucrative frequent-flyer promotion, the film springs this seemingly shallow conceit to life. Adam Sandler plays Barry, an emotionally troubled business man who discovers a marketing loop hole, where he can essentially travel anywhere in the world if he buys $3000 worth of pudding. This is the catalyst that sparks a series of exciting and scary new experiences into his life.

The whole film revolves around the idea of change: his desire to start wearing a suit, his new passion to play an abandoned harmonium, and the ability to become romantically involved with someone. It's sometimes scary (the phone sex line sub plot), and full of self doubt (his anger issues), but you always come out stronger for it.

But it's not just the whimsical metaphorical poetry of the film that makes it a masterpiece. It's the down to earth, fully realised, well written characters that make the film as magical as it is.

I mean, who hasn't had a conversation with a loved one like that? Barry is essentially the insecure, angry teenager in all of us: silent and awkward one moment, then a fit of rage the next. No one could have done a better job of portraying him than the King of Perpetual Adolescence himself, Adam Sandler. The only sad thing about watching this film is realising he's gone back to films like this:

You're better than this, Adam!

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