Blu-Ray Review: Punch Drunk Love (Criterion Collection)

Amongst the film-going and critical intelligentsia, Paul Thomas Anderson is vying with Terrence Malick for the title of greatest living American auteur. During the late ‘90s, Boogie Nights and Magnolia defined contemporary film-making. Every new release seems like a media event, with Inherent Vice, The Master and There Will Be Blood all walking away with a bucketful of awards. After the gruelling process of making Magnolia, PTA wanted to make a 90-minute film with Adam Sandler. That film is Punch Drunk Love.

Barry Egan (Sandler) is an emotionally fragile, lonely and anxious single man who grew up with seven overbearing sisters. He hides himself away, running his own business from a warehouse, determinedly plotting to outsmart a pudding company. When Lena (Emily Watson) orchestrates a way into his life, despite his best attempts to thwart himself, things appears to be looking up. However, a call to a sex-line worker comes back to haunt him, threatening to ruin everything.

Punch Drunk Love is a comedy like no other. Set to a, sometimes distracting, pulsating soundtrack, Paul Thomas Anderson choreographs a film which riffs off Barry mental deficiencies to create an unconventional romantic comedy. Usual collaborator Philip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant as an outraged carpet salesman cum sex-line owner, whilst Sandler manages to reign himself to deliver his best performance. Punch Drunk Love has moments of pure genius, but the parts are much more intriguing than the whole.

Special Features:

  • 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Paul Thomas Anderson, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
  • Blossoms & Blood, a twelve-minute 2002 short film by Anderson, featuring music by Jon Brion and performances by Adam Sandler and Emily Watson
  • New interview with Brion
  • New piece featuring behind-the-scenes footage of a recording session for the film’s soundtrack
  • New conversation between curators Michael Connor and Lia Gangitano about the art of Jeremy Blake
  • Additional artwork by Blake
  • Cannes press conference from 2002
  • NBC News interview from 2000 with David Phillips, “the pudding guy”
  • Twelve Scopitones
  • Deleted scenes
  • Mattress Man commercial
  • Trailers

Punch Drunk Love is released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as part of the Criterion Collection on Monday.

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