I personally find it rare that a film is carried all by one character alone, usually it is done as a group effort, multiple characters that differ in their own special ways that work together to make a film truly epic and great. However, Punch Drunk Love goes against that belief as it is all about the one character of Barry Egan, played brilliantly by Adam Sandler.
Director Paul Thomas Anderson has done a remarkable job in communicating the character and mind of Barry Egan to the audience. Throughout the entire film the audience is placed in this uneasy and unsettling almost disturbing-like atmosphere. The awkward shots and use of lens flares gives off a very surreal element to the movie and it is through these techniques that we as the audience come to terms and understanding of Barry. It is clear that Barry is no ordinary human being in the sense that he is a very strange man, most likely living with a certain mental condition that is never explained or mentioned whatsoever in the film. Rather it leaves it up to the audience to find out which is much better than resorting to spoon-feeding the audience.
Barry’s actions and responses to everyday life are what captivate the attentions of those that watch this film, that it is because of his unique and different character that we as the audience can’t wait to see how he reacts to something such as a call to a phone-sex line. What ensues is nothing short of genuine comedy, as the phone-sex receptionist struggles to get Barry to talk “dirty” instead Barry chooses to talk about his day and about his life. It is hilarious to see someone refer to a phone-sex line as somewhat of a life-coach or guidance counselor, or even a therapist as Barry talks on and on about anything other than what the purpose of that call would be for any other person.
However, what I really enjoyed about this film was how it revolved around the phenomenon of love. Being a romantic-comedy at heart, it was truly heartwarming to see someone such as Barry Egan find true love in his life. Something that may seem almost impossible given the situation and condition he’s in, one may find it extremely unlikely that Barry find someone willing to spend the rest of their life with him, and as harsh as that may sound, it is all the more joyful when he defies those odds and gets the girl.
It sends out the message that love transcends and conquers all, and what could be more feel-good than that? Filled with hilarious moments such as the absolutely ridiculous dialogue that Barry and Lena (His love interest) share whilst in bed, or when Barry and the character of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dean Trumbell, get into an intense argument over the phone (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE2FCCZ50VU), although it may not be for everyone, this film should not fall short of entertainment.
Although I will be honest, at first I was not all that interested in the film, the awkwardness and unsettling nature of the score and dialogue made me feel way too uneasy at first. However, after taking much time to realize what the film had done, I’ve come to appreciate a lot more than I thought I could have. Overall, at it’s core, Punch Drunk Love is a heartwarming tale of a strange man that goes against the world in his fight for true love, and in the end wins her heart.