The creative force behind "Punch-Drunk Love" was writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson, and he won the Best Director prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival for his efforts on the film. Anderson had previously made "Boogie Nights" (1997) and "Magnolia" (1999), but "Punch-Drunk Love" is an intimate little movie thats quite different from his earlier films.
Adam Sandler is the star of "Punch-Drunk Love," and I really liked him a lot in the leading role. This is more of an art-house film and gives him more of a chance to show his dark side than hes displayed in the mindlessly comic movies hes previously appeared in. Sandlers characters romantic interest is played by Emily Watson, and I found her delightful here. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Luis Guzman, two character actors who often appear in offbeat films, also play supporting roles in this movie.
Sandlers character is Barry Egan, owner and operator of a small business in the San Fernando Valley part of Los Angeles. When we first meet Barry, he is about to embark on a plan to amass a million frequent flyer miles on American Airlines by buying $3,000 worth of Healthy Choice pudding.
Apparently driven by loneliness, the socially awkward Barry calls up a phone-sex line. Despite encouragement from the female voice on the phone, he never really gets into the spirit of the call. And it quickly emerges that the Utah people who run the phone-sex line are out to extort money from him.
Then Barry has the good fortune to be invited to dinner by the sweet-natured, physically attractive Lena Leonard (Watson), and they like each other right away. When she goes to Hawaii on business, he joins her there, and their romance bursts into full bloom. Meanwhile, the Utah phone-sex people are still out to get Barry, and when they hurt Lena, he strikes back.
What I liked best about "Punch-Drunk Love" was that I never knew what was going to happen next. Also, I think the movie works extremely well as a contemporary romance.
I really like the look of "Punch-Drunk Love." The movie depicts the main characters everyday world as being rather dreary, but switches to a lyrical style to show their peak moments. Between scenes, intriguing abstract artworks by Jeremy Blake sometimes fill the screen. Also, I think the deliberately intrusive score complements the films look very well. Percussive sounds build a feeling of edginess during some scenes, while lush strings play melodic passages during the romantic sequences. Its nice that the DVD is in Superbit format because this permits excellent picture and sound quality.
I was a little disappointed at the dearth of bonus materials provided on the two-disc DVD set. There is neither an audio commentary track nor a making-of feature, and the total running time of all the extras combined is only about 34 minutes.
In any case, Ive listed the DVDs special features on the next page.