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August 21st, 2003

Punch Drunk Love

Watched the Paul Thomas Anderson film Punch Drunk Love last night. It wasn't anything like what I had expected, though if I had truly considered that it was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (who also wrote and directed both Magnolia and Boogie Nights), I would have been better prepared.

It's an unusual film -- in almost every respect -- which focuses on a single character much more than either Magnolia or even Boogie Nights. The main character is a man (Adam Sandler, who is unexpectedly brilliant in the role) who is physically mature, but emotionally stunted. He is filled with emotions, but does not know how to express them in an adult way. He suffers from uncontrollable fits of rage or tears, but cannot stand up for himself in any useful way. His lack of emotional maturity has been heavily influenced by his 7 overbearing sisters, who watch his every move and take every opportunity to criticize or mock him. They also continually trade information about him, so that his every embarrassing moment is broadcast to the world. They love him deeply, but do not know how to express their own love in a mature way, and so continue to treat him like a child.

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The first half hour, I kept wondering if I should just wander away and let Shannon watch the movie by himself. But a couple hours after the film, I was still thinking about it. I'm not surprised it's been nominated for so many awards.

It's not a film for everyone, because it's not like other films. But if you like Magnolia, Rushmore, and Amelie, you might want to give Punch Drunk Love a try.

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