The logline on Netflix states:
“Pudding is the plan, but the rub is a phone-sex scam. For a man who’s an enigma even to himself, love is a kaleidoscope.”
Barry is a lonely man who owns a novelty item company who has a masculine inferiority complex due to his overbearing older sisters. This leads to moments of random rage and anguish throughout the film. One morning he witnesses a random car crash in front of his factory and finds a random harmonium in the middle of the street, which he claims to himself. Later that day, he meets Lena by happenstance, which turns out to be a set up by his sister. Later, he calls a phone sex line, which ensues all of the trouble for Barry throughout the film. The film is a quirky-dark-romantic-dramedy that explains why people need the power of love in their lives because otherwise we could totally all be career oriented people who have no social lives, living in solitude.
This film is a romantic comedy on a nervous breakdown. Barry has been a very lonely man his entire life and we learn that this loneliness has really affected him in his life throughout the film. The harmonium and Lena come into his life on the same exact day, which he takes as a sign that he must go out of his comfort zone in order to get himself out of this rut. You see him learn to play the harmonium in the film and while finding harmony with this instrument it enables him to find love. As his relationship grows with Lena, he is finally free of his lonesome. Barry realizes that he doesn’t have to be alone anymore and that the power of love can make him feel like he can do anything. When someone threatens his newfound love, it frightens Barry to the point where he feels like he will be alone again, he takes major action for the first time in his life.
This film is about overcoming your inner demons, teaching us that one way to do that is to find harmony in your life. This is because, without harmony, we will never be in sync with anything or be unable to have new experiences that lead to adventure, happiness, and love.
Punch Drunk Love is a beautiful film from head to toe. It is beautifully scored, written, shot, directed and the acting is phenomenal. Adam Sandler should do more films like this. If you have written him off because of all his upsetting comedies as of late, watch this film and you will be reminded why you use to love Adam Sandler.
My favorite part of this offbeat romantic comedy is that Paul Thomas Anderson has all the ingredients of a rom-com but refuses to prepare the same kind of dinner that a rom-com serves. Instead, he creates something new and fresh, instilling the lesson of why we need to have love and harmony in our lives rather than teaching us that we all have our soul mate and that love has happy endings like most romantic comedies.