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Punch-Drunk Love

Punch-Drunk Love - ****

Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Rated: R for strong language including a scene of sexual dialogue.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Phillip Semour Hoffman, and Luis Guzmán

Paul Thomas Anderson has easily become one of my favorite directors of the past decade. Before Punch-Drunk Love, he had already done two masterpieces. The first one being Boogie Nights, wonderful film filled with great performances and a great script. I didn't think he could top himself, until he made Magnolia, which I believe is his best film and one of the best ever made. Here Anderson gets a very great cast with some of the best storylines I've ever seen on film. One of the reasons I love Anderson's films so much is because of how he uses his dialogue, it's very realistic. His most realistic dialogue was of course in the very great, Punch-Drunk Love. After years and years of seeing crap romance movies with horrible dialogue, we finally get a film romance that is both realistic in love dialogue and acting. This is a different romance story from the rest we've seen, because in this one, the characters talk like a real couple. I love Anderson's stories, because they are all very well told and very well acted.

Anderson always has one leading man in his cast, Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights, Tom Cruise in Magnolia, and now Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love. This was a very odd choice, because we've never seen Sandler act serious, but just goofy. But I was amazed at his talent of acting, he did something a lot of people though he couldn't, he could act. Finally Adam Sandler, a man we've seen in many dumb films acting like an idiot, does a serious role for once. He really impressed me while playing his character, Berry Egan. I think alot of us can relate to Berry, sometimes we're lonely, or depressed, or just annoyed. I don't think Berry is so different from us, he's just a lonely human being trying to mind his own business. Berry just has a normal lonely life, then something happened to him that I think happens to all of us, he found love.

The film starts off with Berry Egan, a man with his own company of selling toilet products. In an instant he witnesses a car accident, then a harmonium is left in the street by an unknown source. Berry, who has no idea what has just happened, nervously walks away. That same day he meets the women who he will soon fall in love with, Lena Leonard. We are never told about Lena's life, but we assume she's also very lonely. Their first meeting was a bit awkward when she leaves her car purposely to meet Berry. Berry is always awkward towards women, we find this out when his sister tries to set him up and Berry just replies: "I just don't do stuff like that." Berry is always annoyed by his seven sister's because they are always on his case, and during a party for one of them, he just explodes and breaks the patio windows.

This film has some terrific acting. It's not only Sandler who's great in the film. Emily Watson does an outstanding performance as Lena. Her character is not so different from Berry's, you can see how they relate. I think she was the perfect choice for this role, her look just felt right. There is also one more man who I always think does an excellent performance, PTA regular, Phillip Semour Hoffman. In Boogie Nights, he played Scotty, a nice guy who helped around and was very fond of porn-star Dirk Diggler. In Magnolia, he played Phil Parma, a nurse who was trying to be the nice guy and just do the right thing. But here, in Punch-Drunk Love, he plays the jerk, the "bad guy" if you like to put it that way. He never dissapoints in his acting, not one time have I ever seen a performance of Mr. Hoffman which I didn't enjoy. And here I think he does one of his best acting performances as Dean Trumbell, a man who runs a Mattress store when also running a phone sex company.

Another thing I just have to mention is the film's score, it's just simply beautiful, Jon Brion has made one of my favorite musical score's here, and I thank him for putting all this beautiful music into this great film. The Punch-Drunk Love theme he put in the film has become one of those songs I can just hear over and over again. You can also hear Jon Brion's great music in another great romance film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

When I saw this at the theater, I was very surprised at how many people walked out. I suspected they were Sandler fans that were expecting another stupid goofy Sandler film. I was very mad that these people were not even giving this film a chance, in the first 20 minutes, about 10 people walked out. It's really sad how people won't even give it a chance and see Sandler's real talent here, they just refuse to see that Sandler can do something good for a change.

There are two different stories going on here: 1. The love story between Berry and Lena, and 2. A very well written story of Berry vs. a Phone Sex company. Before Berry met Lena, he wanted to talk to somebody, he didn't have anyone to talk to about his problems, so he tries a phone sex company. After talking to Georgia, a girl from the phone sex line he called, she calls him the next morning with several threating statements because she wants some money from him. Berry ignores her so she sends out 3 brothers that work for Dean Trumbell, the phone sex company owner, to force Berry into giving her money. After getting his money stolen, Berry decides to join Lena and goes to a trip to Hawaii, and we finally see, Berry has found love. Love makes him stronger and more powerful, before love, Berry was just a lonely awkward man. Now love has made him realize now he has something, someone he can talk to, and it makes him more confident about himself. He is finally happy.

This film is a romance masterpiece, Paul Thomas Anderson has created one of my favorite love story films. I was very mad over the fact that Anderson nor Sandler got any Academy Award nominations at all, and I also really think Phillip Hoffman should of gotten a Best Supportting Actor nomination. When I see Anderson's film's, he inspires me, he inspires me to write a screenplay because of his wonderful work. His screenwriting is wonderful. He's one of the best, other great screenwriters of past years of course include the very very talented Charlie Kaufman and the great Quentin Tarantino. What all these have in common is that their dialogue seems very real. This film will always stand out in my mind as, a great romance story, Adam Sandler's best performance, and yet another Paul Thomas Anderson masterpiece. Best film of 2002.

"I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine." - Berry Egan