Punch Drunk Love begins with Adam Sandler on the telephone. The office is spacious, but there he is at the corner. This disproportionate scene is then followed by a car crash, that Barry Egan has witnessed while he’s out drinking coffee, and a harmonium dumped from nowhere. I don’t figure how these events matter to the succeeding ones – to his business, to his relationships with Lena and his dysfunctional sisters, etc. – but they do explain one thing: this won’t be your typical romantic comedy.
Adam Sandler’s Barry Egan is a mentally disturbed businessman, who has violent tendencies and is constantly being teased by his weirder sisters. It’s an absolute turnaround from Sandler’s usual roles. Instead of throwing all the jokes, he is the laughing stock among his siblings. He isn’t the charming comedian who can deliver pickup lines effortlessly. It’s funny he can’t even look Lena in the eyes while their on a date. He’s too clueless and emotional he doesn’t even know what the phone-sex line is for! Yet the seriousness of his situation is the reason why I always forget to take him seriously and find his misfortunes funny.
If sir hasn’t told us that Punch Drunk Love is a romantic comedy (and if it has no love attached to the title), after seeing the first few scenes, I would never expect a romance from this one. The shots are too dark. The music at the beginning or lack thereof gives the same eerie atmosphere of a horror film. There are bullies, in the guise of his sisters. Etc. There is, however, an obvious difference when Lena enters the picture. When I see her the first time, she almost blends in the background, I have the faintest idea that she will be Barry’s love interest. I do not even remember the color of his dress. But when she becomes someone who matters, the movie gives us clues that she actually is. She wears a bright red dress. She’s with Barry, with his blue suit on, and suddenly are eyes are fixed on them. They stand out, literally.
A lot can be said about the colors used in Punch Drunk Love. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any of those lens flares that my classmates are referring to but I remember seeing transition colors because they hurt my eyes, literally. Figuratively speaking, it’s strange but it doesn’t seem out of place. With all those craziness present, I can’t just expect a subdued or subtle transition from this film. It is expected though unexpected, because it haven’t occurred to me that the filmmakers would even pay attention to these minute details.
Punch Drunk Love has one of the most impossible love stories I’ve seen. Barry constantly breaks things, buys lots of pudding, and gets into trouble. I would have wished Barry to get treatment and address his issues with his annoying sisters. But no. He instead meets Lena, who at first seems perfectly normal but turns out as someone who has her own brand of craziness, and can keep up with his and the mess he’s gotten into. Okay, this is weird but the movie somehow reminds me of Shrek. The latter teaches that no one needs to be perfect to have a happy ending, and Punch Drunk Love extends this idea (that love knows no bounds etc etc) and provides us with the extreme case.