(2002)4Perry SeibertWhile Punch-Drunk Love is aggressively idiosyncratic, it most certainly fits thematically with Paul Thomas Anderson's other works. Hard Eight is about a man creating a new family in order to overcome the guilt he feels for destroying his own; Boogie Nights is about creating a new family to escape the dysfunction of one's biological family; and Magnolia is about confronting and making peace with family members. Punch-Drunk is about a man so emotionally henpecked by his seven sisters that only the love of a woman can get him to break through the layers of defensiveness he has constructed around his inner self. Adam Sandler is superb as Barry Egan. Anderson has successfully integrated the violent subtext of Sandler's comedic persona and transformed that element of his personality from something that gets laughs into something that engenders sympathy and communicates deep psychological issues. Anderson's precise framings as well as his superb feel for sound and music are on display throughout the film. The style and substance of the film meld superbly throughout, but never more so than during the extended shot involving Barry talking to a phone sex operator. The single take communicates his lonesome existence by revealing the sparsely decorated rooms, while Sandler's performance in the scene expresses his desire to change as well as the difficulty he faces in his attempts to make those changes. The whole film is tight, controlled, and utterly charming. Disquietingly odd and richly emotional, Punch-Drunk Love continues to show why Paul Thomas Anderson may be the most interesting filmmaker of his generation.