Cassie's Movie Reviews
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punch-drunk love (2002)

A love story tinged with a bit of the surreal.

Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson

Robert Elswit

Adam Sandler
Emily Watson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Luis Guzman

Punch-Drunk Love Poster

I absolutely adore this film. Paul Thomas Anderson is an amazing writer/director. I have friends who are fanatical about Boogie Nights and Magnolia. While I enjoy, respect and very highly recommend those films, I think this ranks as my favorite PT Anderson film.

Barry begins the story as an awkward younger brother who doesn't know where he fits in. He feels more comfortable in the shadows and when he does emerge, sparks seem to fly (or glass breaks). Lena, through her acceptance of him, shows him that he doesn't need to wonder where he fits in anymore.


One of Jeremy Blake's images-Artwork by Jeremy Blake. I love the blue and red/pink swatches of color on the white background and the stripes that remind me of Looney Toons (even though those were circles of essentially the same color - just go with me on this). I love that these 2 colors are carried over into the film - Barry's suit, Lena's wardrobe, the moving van, the warehouse wall, everything. It is a romance after all ....
-Adam Sandler, Emily Watson & Philip Seymour Hoffman. All fantastic. All perfect for their roles.
-Tension. Uncomfortableness. The person I went to see this movie with in the theater was almost a wreck by the end - squirming just waiting for that 'something' to happen that will break the tension.
-The reflections and refraction of light and color throughout. Notice them - appreciate them. The blue and pink bands or spots of light that appear in so many of the scenes.
-Use of light and dark - closing and opening doors, blinding outside light, bad fluorescent lighting, the sounds of light - humming, buzzing.
-Use of corridors and tunnels. The maze of hallways to get to Lena's apartment, the corridors of the hotel, Barry walking through the tunnel to get to the airplane.
-The confidence that comes with love. Showing Barry's blossoming.
-"He needs me" song
-Use of phones. The phone seems to be associated with trouble in Barry's life. Notice that he carries it from his apartment to the office (when the phone sex woman calls him back) and that he also carries the office phone with him on his trip to the Mattress Man in Utah. I love that he left the phone there - as if saying, my problems are now over.


Harmonium left in the street.-Opening phone call about the Healthy Choice airline miles promotion - the blue & white wall to go with Barry's blue & white suit.
-The crash of the red SUV followed by the harmonium being put in the street. I love the lighting - the dim morning light. Discuss symbolism of harmonium if you want or just enjoy that it exists as a surreal element in the film. I don't care.
-Grocery store trip and the discovery of 99 cent 4 pack of Healthy Choice pudding. Glaring lights, buzzing sound.
-Walking, sitting, moving around while Barry is setting up the phone sex call. I love the tension building.
-When his sister brings Lena to meet him. I love that their first "get to know you" conversation is interrupted by the phone sex woman, crash in the warehouse, and his sister badgering him about the Lance & Barry buying pudding at the grocery store.psychiatrist. The music is perfect - percussion driven - almost sounds like they should be marching in a parade.
-Walking out of the restaurant. Barry in blue, Lena in pink/red. The swell of the music. Spotlight on them. Beautiful.
-Barry running through the maze of hallways after Lena calls him at the front desk - running back to her for his goodnight kiss.
-Pudding dance of joy in the grocery store.
-Barry walking in the airport - going down the tunnel-like ramp to get onto the plane - the bright light at the end that seems to swallow him up.
-The light going on in the phone booth when Barry finally gets Lena on the phone in Hawaii.
-The kiss in the hotel lobby. The use of light and dark. Silhouettes of all the people rushing around them. Barry & LenaTheir passionate almost clumsy encounter and kiss.
-Barry reaching for Lena's hand in the hotel corridor - with a sort of unsure, please love me feeling.
-Realizing that Barry is staring at the curtain in the hospital and not at Lena. Cool optical effect.
-The entire 'That's that' scene. Loved it.
-Barry's confession/declaration at Lena's door. I love the vibrant contrast of her red shirt against his blue suit.


-There's a piano in the street. - LenaLance & Barry in the warehouse.
-Remember we used to call you 'gay boy' you'd get all mad? - Sister
-I don't like myself sometimes. Can you help me? - Barry
-Barry, I'm a dentist. - Walter, the Dentist
-I don't know if there is anything wrong because I don't know how other people are. - Barry
-Are you going on a trip? - Lance
-No, I'm not; but airline mileage is like a currency these days. - Barry
You should go on a trip.
- Yeah, no thank you.
-I'm going to go and eat tomorrow night. Do Lena & Barry at want to go with me? - Lena
-Sure. - Barry
Do you want to pick me up?
Can I write down my address and phone number for you?
-So you bought all that pudding so that you could get frequent flyer miles? - Lena
-I know, yes. - Barry
That's insane.
-And bye-bye. - Barry
-I just wanted you to know - wherever you're going or whatever you're doing right now - I want you to know that I wanted to kiss you just then. - Lena
-This is what you get when you're a pervert. - one of the Brothers
-It really looks like Hawaii here. - BarryThe Mattress Man, aka Dean Trumbell
-I don't have any business here. I came here for you. - Barry
-Shut up! Shut the fuck up! Shut up will you shut up! Shut Shut Shut Shut Shut up! Shut up! - Mattress Man
-I didn't do anything. I'm a nice man. I mind my own business. So you tell me 'That's that' before I beat the hell from you. I have so much strength in me, you have no idea. I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine. I would say 'That's that', Mattress Man. - Barry