Punch Drunk Love

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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzman

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) owns a general goods warehouse and one morning as he is opening up his office he hears the sound of a car pulling up outside and goes to investigate. He finds Lena Leonard (Emily Watson) has driven up and is getting out of her car. She then walks up to him and asks him to give her car keys to the mechanic next door to him, which he agrees to do. However this whole incident awakens his dormant need for female company,

When he gets home that night he phones up a chat line and unwittingly gives up most of his personal details when requested to by the girl on the other end of the phone. The next morning the girl from the chat line phones him up and asks him for some money which he declines to hand over. She becomes so infuriated by his refusal that she threatens him and he promptly hangs up.

Then Barry’s prayers are answered when one of his many sisters introduces him to her work mate who happens to be none other than Lena. They go out on a date but afterwards Barry is attacked by a group of men who work for Dean Trumbell (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), the boss of the chat line company that Barry used. Barry is forced to hand over the cash they want and then runs home. On reflection though he decides that he has been cheated so he calls up the chat line and leaves a message requesting the return of his money!

When Lena travels to Hawaii Barry follows her and this strengthens their developing relationship. However once again Trumbell’s thugs intrude on Barry’s love life when returning from Hawaii their car is smashed into by them. But this time around Barry’s growing love for Lena has made him very confident of himself and he knocks the crap out of his would be attackers. He then decides to go to the offices of the chat line where he confronts Dean in a verbal showdown. Barry then rushes back to Lena to pick up where he left off.

Performances from Adam Sandler, Emily Watson and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are all excellent. The direction from P T Anderson is also very good but the story line is a bit of a let down and too vague in parts. Despite this PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE is still a strange, funny and sweet alternative romantic comedy worth seeing.

4 out of 6 stars