Punch-Drunk Love

I was looking forward to this movie, having heard that it was the one film in which Adam Sandler actually acted. However I was sorely disappointed; my reaction to it was similar my reaction to Napolean Dynamite – it just felt strange and pointless. Now I enjoy works about flawed characters making mistakes – usually in a Grecian tragic sense (see Lena Dunham, Your Sister’s Sister, and my upcoming post on Young Adult), but a movie about socially awkward outcasts being socially awkward and remaining outcasts doesn’t go anywhere.

No doubt Punch-Drunk Love was making statements about loneliness, isolation, and invisibility, but the movie was horribly slow, and the stupid pauses and artsy shots just left me cold. The directorial artifice just set up additional unnecessary barriers between me and the difficult -to-appreciate characters.

Sandler’s character was well acted, but I found this personality extremely grating: awkwardness is one thing, but he couldn’t own any of his actions, and resorted to lying and accusing other people of being liars. The dynamic with his sisters was well-depicted though – their backhanded help and subtle undermining of him was insightful. Watson’s character remains a cipher, aggressively pursuing her dubious prize with only hints of her motivation. The dirty-talk scene was horribly cringeworthy. Also the business with the evil mattress-phone-sex thing was so random.

Anyway, it’s a movie with unusual characters and occasionally interesting elements, but you have to put up with annoying direction that tends to dwell on pointless things.

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