Before seeing the film, I had already known that it starred Adam Sandler. It had also already been established prior to watching that the film was some sort of romantic comedy. Having recently seen Just Go With it, the most recent romantic comedy also starring Adam Sandler, and from my memory of all the other Adam Sandler films I’ve seen, I expected it to be a typical Adam Sandler movie regardless of it being one of his earlier films. I expected laughs from a socially awkward Adam Sandler goofing around and acting stupid, as he has done so well as Nicky in Little Nicky, Bobby in The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore and in so many other films.
Upon seeing the opening scenes of Punch-Drunk Love, how absurd everything seemed. From the first unusually framed scene where Adam Sandler is on the phone, to him walking out of the office just as a car crashes, then moving on to the harmonium that is randomly dropped off by the gate – nothing seemed to make sense and everything felt so strangely random. My expectations contributed to this strangeness as Barry Egan was introduced without anything stupid or funny happening. The strangeness of seeing such a different Adam Sandler character, one with real issues instead of just moving from one stupidly funny moment to another just for laughs, made me all the more captivated by the film. The bizarre occurrences, as random and unlikely as they all seemed, didn’t seem to take away from the film but instead make it even more interesting. I think Punch-Drunk Love was the film I enjoyed the most so far.
I remember talking in class about the visual elements used by the director such as framing and lighting. After reading the article by Cubie King, I discovered a whole new depth to the film that I had not previously noticed. Watching the film for the first time, I did notice the unusual framing of the first scene, the lens flares and the weird colorful transitions, but I didn’t really think anything of it. Though I knew they shouldn’t have fit, they still somehow did. Looking into the meaning of these things in class, I felt the same about most of them. I remember thinking about how the lens flares emphasized the relationship of Barry and Lena. What caught my attention the most however, was the significance of the harmonium. Thinking about it, I noticed how at the beginning, Barry saw the harmonium on the sidewalk but left it alone. Afterwards, he slowly seemed to warm up to it throughout the film – from taking it to his office, slowly starting to push some keys, until he finally plays it in the end. My interpretation of it was that the harmonium signified the change that Barry went through, from being awkward and scared in the beginning to standing up for himself and finding love in the end of the film. The article attributed a different meaning to the harmonium, which I found very interesting as well. The article also helped me appreciate the brilliance behind the director’s use of visual presentation to convey the message of the film. I specifically found the very careful and precise use of color to emphasize and evoke certain emotions and interpretations. I think the director was able to make use of visuals very effectively, making the film even better than I initially thought it was.