Star Rating:

Punch-Drunk Love

Actors: Luis Guzman, Emily Watson, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Ashley Clark

Release Date: Monday 30th November -0001

Running time: 95 minutes

There are two things you should know about Punch Drunk Love - this is the first Paul Thomas Anderson film since his feature debut Hard Eight (1996), which is less than two-and-a-half hours in length. The second is, Adam Sandler - yes, the Adam Sandler - is finally after making a movie on first name terms with excellence. In a performance full of restraint and emotional delicacy (no, I can't believe it either), Sandler plays Barry Egan, a shy businessman who suffers from frequent outburst of uncontrollable anger. This anger stems in no small part from his constant belittling at the hands of his seven sisters, one of whom sets him up with a shy co-worker of hers, Lena (Emily Watson). Before he got to know Lena, however, Barry rang a phone sex number and gave out important details, including his credit card number, and is now being subjected to an extortion racket, masterminded by Utah businessman Dean Turnball (Hoffman).

If this all sounds a little bizarre and unworldly that's because Punch Drunk Love is precisely that. A free flowing, grandiose piece of filmmaking, in which nothing seems to happen, but everything does at the same time, Punch Drunk Love is a shimmering, defiantly odd but utterly engrossing stuff. For a movie billed as a romantic comedy, there are precious few 'straight' gags, but the real beauty lies with the peculiar netherworld that Anderson has created and the characters that populate it. Like all of the director's films, Punch Drunk Love will probably require at least another viewing to fully appreciate its finery, nuance and subtleties, but for the moment anyway, this is a little gem of a romantic drama.