Amazing Blu-Ray, Great Film!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 9 August 2018
Criterion have done a fantastic job at bringing this gem to Blu-Ray. A crisp transfer approved by the film's director Paul Thomas Anderson, and a huge collection of bonus features make this the ultimate version of the film. The delivery was also on time and arrived in excellent condition.
As for the film itself, Punch-Drunk Love is a quirky, offbeat but otherwise enjoyable romance comedy/drama starring usual comedy buffoon Adam Sandler, who gives a surprisingly incredible performance as Barry Egan, a shy, unconfident salesman of novelty items who has faced abuse from his 7 sisters over the course of his life.
Barry's whole life takes a turn for the strange once he claims a Harmonium (A miniature organ, somewhat like a piano) that has been left on the street, and when one of his sister's mysterious friends named Lena takes an interest to him. In Barry's desperate attempts to free himself from his shell, he gets involved with all sorts of outlandish troubles and quests, to try and break free and become the free spirit he always wanted to be.
As previously mentioned, Adam Sandler is amazing in his role as Barry, giving us a surprisingly nuanced and touching look at this emotionally repressed individual. Emily Watson delivers a similarly mesmerising performance as Lena, with an out-of-this-world quality that draws not only Barry in, but also the viewer as well. There are other terrific and memorable performances, including the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who is responsible for what may be the funniest scene in the film.
Punch-Drunk Love does a great job at balancing personal drama and emotional stakes with comedy that fits the mood of the film perfectly. The score by Jon Brion is at times very percussion-heavy and often reflects the emotional state of Barry at different points in the film, but when necessary, it becomes whimsical, orchestral, romantic and beautiful.
The visual direction is also a sight to behold, with a vivid use of colour and symbolism to create a genius example of visual storytelling.
If you are familiar with Adam Sandler's other comedy films, such as Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, or Big Daddy (The film that persuaded Paul Thomas Anderson to cast Sandler for this film!), or even his newer, less heartfelt "efforts", then Punch-Drunk Love will either be very refreshing if you dislike that style of humour. If you do like those films, there is a chance this may not be to your tastes. As someone who enjoyed Happy Gilmore, it was very refreshing to see him in a role that suited his unhinged nature, but didn't take a more juvenile path.
Overall, I would say that Punch-Drunk Love is not a film for everyone, it has a lot of quirks and at times can seem a little self-indulgent in terms of certain aspects of the presentation of the film (Random video art interludes anyone?), as they don't appear to hold any meaning or connection to the film, but all of that aside, it is a film definitely worth watching if you fancy something different. And Criterion have absolutely made the definitive home video version of the film, so that should be highly commended as well.
Blu-Ray (Packaging, transfer, bonus features etc.) - 5/5
Film - 4/5
2 people found this helpful