Barry Egan is a small business owner with seven sisters whose abuse has kept him alone and unable to fall in love. When a harmonium and a mysterious woman enter his life, his romantic journey begins.
This is a Adam Sandler type film. His fingerprints are all over it. At least Classic Sandler. A man Childish character who is prone to rage and outrageous violence. Speaking in some scenes in a childish manor, but ti does allow him to show range as he is the main character. He is still not the coolest or smoothest like in his later films. There is also not a bunch of sight gags. Paul Thomas Anderson calls this an arthouse Adam Sandler film.
The film has a certain heaviness. It is pretentious at times and has it’s fair share of outrageous and ridiculous circumstances. That could have been played big and broad, but here more or less are downplayed to try and make the film more grounded in reality. The film manages to tap into real emotions and feelings of despair, Loneliness, Depression, Love and discovery. How it feels to make a connection with someone. The feeling of first falling in love with a person. Accepting the flaws and letting the pluses outnumber them. Seeing the good in people first and foremost. Some elements are brought up in the film. like him having only sisters who are strong and seem to bully him, but they are there to give back-story and a hint of what shaped him to the way he is now. That are good storytelling without going overboard and having too many scenes devoted to explanation that are not really needed. When it can be explained in one or two leaving the film to focus on it’s core story.
Even the romance angle is unconventional. Two characters, So oddball find each other. He has more quirks then her, But as they are middle aged. Se is willing to accept them for a man who truly loves and appreciates her. Even his violent streak seems more Romantic and heroic. Like a classic fantasy romantic leading man.
This is a film that could have easily been a disaster, but it manages to march to a beat of it’s own drummer and soon you are in tune with it’s beat. It’s also interesting this is a story of middle-aged people falling in love. One who has lived life and has a past falling in love. Who is virtually a clean slate. It’s a romantic relationship that at times seems more like a maternal one. Throw in a wacky side plot that would probably be a more central device in a film that would be played purely for laughs.
I think the whole oddball-outsider Socially awkward hero at the heart of the story makes me see the film as personal for me. This was before Judd Apatow brought it to the forefront of films. The outsider getting the girl. The Schlub getting the dream-girl. What is unique is that this is a adult relationship and that the girl is not necessarily a bombshell or model. Most films of this type would have mated him with. Wishful thinking on the filmmakers part an attempt to reach every member of the audience
When it comes to Paul Thomas Anderson films. I’m not going to lie, They aren’t al great, but they are good in my opinion. Except for one HARD EIGHT. Which showed skill but is his only film that never affected me. His films show style, Talent and voice of a true filmmaker. Who keeps thing interesting when he comes out with a new film. I know the excitement felt in the 1960’s and 70’s where these Auteurs were making classics and they were coming out it seemed like every few weeks. When Mr. Anderson’s films come out. I know they will be something to behold. This films definitely influenced my cinematic growth as I learned more and more about film.
His films come out and always amazes me, but also showed me technique. Just as this film is clearly influenced by a director. Who was a great influence on his work. The late Robert Altman. The off kilter casting. The non reliance on plot so much as moments even some songs from Altman’s POPEYE make it onto the soundtrack. The long takes roaming scenic hallways.
This is not only a love story, But a love song to Altman. A director who to me was 50/50 When it came the end product. He was willing to be experimental. Which at first threw me off, but once I got into his films I usually enjoyed them. Even when he made a bad film there was something to admire in the film. A certain fearlessness and willingness to experiment and get his actors to find the emotional truth. That Paul Thomas Anderson emulates, but in his own way. Even though at times Altman films could get artsy to the nth degree and feel pretentious. He found a way to save it overall and make it worth watching. Though Anderson’s use of some things like the use of light installations between the scenes are not needed.
I Love this film. It means a lot to me. It’s one of the rare love stories I appreciate that doesn’t over do it. It’s no TRUE ROMANCE. That love seems more pumped with adrenaline. This is more the love you wait for and eventually find. It inspires me and leaves me hoping to have this type of love and romance one day. It’s the type of story that doesn’t overstate itself or feel sickening. I wish more films were not afraid to allow the film and their characters some dignity and the chance to be vulnerable. Even the soundtrack effects me I always use it for introspection.
The camera rarely leaves the character. It follows leading to long takes but seeing them in their element after the conversation or situations.
Sean Penn had to drop out of the film and was replaced by Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Some of the things I like about the film are the small details. Like Adam Sandler’s characters insistence of learning about this instrument he finds. The color scheme of the film. The unforgettable visuals that are simple and don’t call attention to themselves like more stylish directors would have. The soundscape of the film which is hard to describe and one of a kind. It is very much a experimental film with Steadicam shots fit in with camera shots that are out of focus at times. Even the score for the film was planned to be different with The score being written and played while filming of scenes. That didn’t work out so the score was constantly played on the set to help set the mood of the film.