Paul Thomas Anderson on 35mm

Punch Drunk Love 15

Punch Drunk Love

One of Paul Thomas Anderson's most notable achievements may just be his inspired decision to cast Adam Sandler in this delightfully odd, bracingly original and giddily off kilter foray into romantic comedy.

Barry Egan (Adam Sandler, in a performance so good it makes you wonder what on earth he's been doing with his career) is a self-loathing owner of a novelty item distribution business. Dominated by his seven sisters and wracked with insecurities, he leads a largely solitary life - punctuated by occasional emotional outbursts and a talent for exploiting loopholes in promotional stunts for pre-packaged puddings. But when, in a moment of deep loneliness, he calls a phone-sex line and becomes entangled in an extortion scam, it really complicates the fact that he’s finally managed to meet a woman, Lena (Emily Watson), who actually seems to like him.

Fuelled by the careening momentum of a baroque-futurist score by Jon Brion and the visual work of painter Jeremy Blake whose work intersperses beautifully throughout, Punch Drunk Love is a surreal, fever-dream of a film and a wonderfully idiosyncratic ode to the delirium of new romance.