If there’s any movie in this class that has disoriented me more than my difficulty in telling left from right, then Punch Drunk Love wins by miles. The supposed romantic comedy turned into a suspense thriller for me and I know that I’m probably the only one who feels this way. It’s not that I don’t get it, because I believe I do — it’s just that I wasn’t so sure if the feelings that the movie wanted me to feel reached me right.
The part when Barry Egan visits the girl in her condo and a certain “suspense” built around it was there, I screamed. But later on, I felt very stupid for “screaming” at a car whizzing by. It’s these unnecessary takes that leave me disjointed while watching the film. There was also the scene where Barry and Lena were in bed talking “dirty” to each other that disturbed me a lot. I know that it was supposed to show us how love can take on different forms and how their relationship is, although peculiar, real. But honestly, I felt scared during this scene. Yes, scared. I felt this certain fear because I thought that the “biting off of the cheek” or “ripping of eyeballs out” kind of dirty talk in bed (I really don’t understand how that can be romantic or funny, even!) would actually come true! I thought that Barry and Lena were going to murder each other or something just merely out of “weird, immense, inexplicable love”. I know that this idea is far-fetched and seemingly irrational, but I can’t help nor blame myself from feeling this because the movie actually had a lot of elements that did not really make sense at first blow.
I understand for example, how this relation illustrates love, or how the pudding coupons illustrate patience, but there is a need for me to exert extra effort to come to this understanding. I actually appreciate how the movie makes me think about the reasons why this is happening or why that is that, and giving me assurance that all my answers will be answered in the end. Unlike Primer which literally left me lost (and it’s still ongoing!).
Somewhere along the communication process, maybe I lost the real message. I was, like the colorful orbs and swirls in the movie, put in an unnatural and foreign place, not knowing what my purpose for being there is. But when the film ended, just how I was able to put sense into why the colorful orbs were there (which I feel that were there to compensate for the movie’s lack of “color” to set the mood and emotions), I was able to put sense into my finding my way through the complicated life of Barry Egan.
Punch Drunk Love is a film that made me think, exercised my ability to analyze, heightened my appreciation for cinema and taught me to be a more critical audience. It gave me a sense of fulfillment that even though I struggled to get through the movie, I was able to reach the finish line without any part of me thirsting for answers.
I was there. And although lost and confused — I was really there.