Punch-Drunk Love

Barry Egan: Adam Sandler
Lena Leonard: Emily Watson
Dean Trumbell: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Lance: Luis Guzman
Elizabeth: Mary Lynn Rajskub
Revolution Studios and New Line Cinema present a film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Running time: 89 minutes. Rated R (for strong language including a scene of sexual dialogue).

Central Theme
Romantic love can transform a life of isolation and lacking meaning into one that is stronger and better than you could have imagined.

Welcome to Paul Thomas Anderson’s version of random circumstance and mayhem. Barry Egan is a man meek and mild on the inside and a seething caldron of violence on the inside. Tormented as a child by seven sisters, who called him ¢â‚¬Ëœgay guy’ and held a constant mirror to his weirdness, his frustrations have always been resolved by random acts of violence; a sledge hammer through a sliding glass door, kicking out plate glass windows, destroying a bathroom. He lives in isolation and has little idea how other people think, behave and live yet he longs for a connection with someone. His life is dominated by his fears and insecurities. He often peeks around the corner of the warehouse door to see what is in the alley.

He owns a novelty company and has settled into a controllable world where his levels of frustration are maintainable, but he still has no idea why he does the things he does; a miniature organ is randomly dropped by his warehouse and he keeps it, he buys a blue suit for work in a warehouse, he buys cases of pudding for the coupons exchangeable for frequent flier miles but he has never flown. His life is a series of meaningless acts strung together in random ways.

After what appears to be a chance meeting with his sister’s friend Lena, his life is about to change for the good, but even this turn of events is accompanied by a developing dark cloud triggered by a call to a sex line service grabbed from the newspaper. The service he chose begins to harass him for additional cash and just as romance is blossoming, thugs are sent from the sex line operator.

When the good in his life, Lena, collides with the dark side, a lifetime of rage is unleashed, supposedly erasing the dark and replacing it with love for Lena. This love, which we learn she initiated and intends to sustain, has freed him to a new honesty about himself and willingness to communicate verbally instead of physically. We are also sensing that Lena has her own weirdness and wonder what the long-term prospects are for a pair matched by a common weirdness.

Though the story offers a kind of redemption it is born against the backdrop of randomness and chance and offers little basis for confidence in its sustainability. Having said that, in Thomas world the random can coincide to make sense; the pudding for a no traveler pays off when Barry falls in love with a woman who travels all the time.

Beliefs num
–Life is a series of random events.
–People are living life in inexplicable ways even they don’t understand.
–Even good people have immense capacity for evil.
–Isolation leads to weird behavior, including violence.
–Violence happens when people have not discovered or don’t know how to use other more constructive means of communication.
–Someone loving you completely and reciprocated can heal both parties.
–Love can make you stronger than you can imagine.
–Random events can come together in ways that ultimately make sense.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Is life a series of random events?
–Can romance transform us in substantial ways?
–Does love make us stronger?

Provocative Quotes byline
–Do you realize the value of this promotion could exceed the value of the purchase?
==Barry confirming the coupon exchangeable for miles.
–I bought one. I thought it would be nice to get dressed for work, so I bought it. I’m not quite sure why.
==Barry explaining his new blue suit.
–I don’t know
==Barry’s recurring answer (why did you buy the suit, why did you buy the pudding, are you gay now? What is the organ for?)
–Business is very food,
==Tongue-tied Barry at the Birthday party.
–I don’t like myself sometimes. Can you help me? I don’t know if there is anything wrong with me because I don’t know how other people are. Sometimes I cry a lot for no reason.
==Barry to dentist brother-in-law who he figures he can confide in because he is a ¢â‚¬Ëœdoctor.’
–I saw a picture of you and your sisters and I really wanted to meet you.
==Lena admitting she arranged to meet Barry.
–We should go. I don’t like it here.
==Barry to Lena after being asked to leave the restaurant after he destroys the bathroom.
–I want you to know I wanted to kiss you just then,
==Lean after first date.
–I’ve got to go to Hawaii and I’ve got to get more pudding before I go. You can go to places in the world with pudding. That’s funny.
==Barry decides to surprise Lena in Hawaii.
–Can you take me to where the beaches and hotels are? And I’m going to need a phone.
==Barry to cabbie when he arrives in Hawaii.
–You came and got me out of my hotel room. So nice.
==Lena to Barry.
–It really looks like Hawaii here.
==Barry on the beach.
–I’m looking at your face and I want to smash it with a sledgehammer.
==Barry’s unusual way of expressing his passion.
–I don’t have any business here. I came here for you.
==Barry confesses to Lena the purpose of his Hawaii visit.
–I didn’t do anything. I’m a nice man. I own my business. Now tell me that or I’ll beat the hell out of you. I have a love in me that makes me stronger than you can imagine.
==Barry to owner of sex-line-service.
–I wanted to make sure you would never be hurt again. I’ve got a lot of pudding that can be redeemed in 6-8 months so I can travel wherever you need to go.
==Barry to Lena.

Posted in Movies, Staublog in October 11, 2002 by | No Comments »

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