As described earlier, particularly in Part's 2 and 3, loneliness and isolation are key themes within Barry's character and Punch-Drunk Love's overall artistic visual and emotional expression. Through the use of colors, music, sounds, symbolism, and camera work, Punch-Drunk Love physically and emotionally expresses the isolated state of Barry's character. Barry is often represented through unconventional visual and emotional narrative. The feeling of loneliness is captured through the framing and composition of Barry, who is often seen isolated within an environment of space. The expression is usually heighten through the use of colors, sounds, music, and visual symbols.


One of the significant aspects of Barry's emotional state that is not necessarily expressed through visual narrative (such as colors or symbols), yet is certainly evident is his insecurity. Barry's loneliness and isolation, as well as the suffering of his seven sisters endlessly ragging him, has put Barry in a state of emotional insecurity and self-doubt. When Lena arrives to him, his emotions build and he's consumed by his own self-doubt. Barry wants to believe Lena's intentions are good, but because he is so unsure of himself, he's just not certain why Lena is interested in him.

As Barry's relationship or harmony grows with Lena (and the harmonium), his inner-confidence and strength grow. In the end Barry self-doubt and insecurity is redeemed through his love, and this captured both when Barry stands up to his sister on the phone in Hawaii, and when he confronts Dean in Utah.


Barry's emotional, psychological, and physical state are that of loneliness and isolation, but through the use of colors, and compositions Barry is also represented in a state of entrapment. In many ways Barry is closed from the outside world and this is expressed several different ways visually: Most notably through environment and space, as well as the use of the color white, representing his entrapment. However, one other way this is expressed visually (and rather subtly) is the use of glass that is prominently featured surrounding Barry, almost as though he is literally trapped. Take for example the scene in which Barry is on the phone with his sister who his reminding him to come to the party. When he hangs up he turns around to leave his office but walks directly into the glass door. Now this is a very funny sequence (highlighted by Adam Sandler's Keaton-esque physical comedy, as well as Luis Guzman background comedy). However, it also represents a key element of Barry's emotional and psychological characterization. Through the tormenting of his sisters (which include calling him "gay-boy" and recalling him throwing a hammer through a sliding glass(!) window), as well as his own self-doubt and loneliness Barry is trapped within himself.

Punch-Drunk Love is a film that can also be viewed as a social commentary in some ways, or at least in terms of what it represents. It's a film that speaks of finding individuality and freedom within a society of conformity. Barry lives in a society which encourages individuality, yet expects and pressures an individual to conform into its system (thus eliminating individuality). Through this pressure of society Barry tries to conform within the system by working and talking on the phone yet at the same time he's out of the system because he's lonely and different. He is a lost soul searching for individuality and freedom from the pressures of a system of conformity. It is Lena, herself a lost soul, that helps Barry break free into individuality. For Barry and Lena, it is finding and falling in love that manages to find their freedom and individuality. Perhaps this is best described in the lyrics of Amiee Mann's song, Save Me, which is used at the end of Anderson's Magnolia: "C'mon and save me. Why don't you save me. If you could save me. From the ranks of the freaks. Who suspect they could never love anyone. Except the freaks. Who suspect they could never love anyone. Except the freaks who could never love anyone."

It is loneliness, isolation, insecurity, and entrapment that express Barry's emotional and physical state, but it is love which serves as his strength and ultimately his redemption and his individuality within a conforming system. Above all, Punch-Drunk Love is a film of love: both finding and falling in love. Like most of the film, love is not expressed through conventional narrative or plot, but through visual and emotional artistic expression of Anderson's cinematic language. Barry's love is expressed towards the end of the film when he returns from Utah (where his love gave him strength to stand-up to Dean) to Lena's apartment (with the harmonium). He tells here: "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I left you at the hospital. I called a phone-sex line... I called a phone-sex line before I met you, and four blond brothers came after me and they hurt you, and I'm sorry. Then I had to leave again because I wanted to make sure you never got hurt again. And I have a lot of puddings, and in six to eight weeks it can be redeemed. So if you could just give me that much time, I think I can get enough mileage to go with you wherever you go if you have to travel for your work. Because I don't ever want to be anywhere without you. So could you just let me redeem the mileage?". A lovely little monologue that is both funny and sweet, and ultimately perfect in capturing Barry's feeling of love for Lena.


As previously described, Punch-Drunk Love is film of finding and falling in love, and through Anderson's filmmaking is expressed almost as a harmony captured on film. The harmonium represents a symbol of love and as the harmony between Barry and Lena grows, so does their love and relationship. This is an indescribable emotional feeling that is perfectly described in the film's title, Punch-Drunk Love. It's is the harmonium which both connects and represents their love, and it is the visuals, colors, sounds and music which capture their feeling of love. Punch-Drunk Love very much shares the emotional and visual spirit of a Hollywood musical and the expression of the film is that harmony and love are (like Barry and Lena) connected.


A mysterious and rather odd theory of the film has been suggested that Lena is an alien. While I don't really believe this theory to be important or even relevant for the film, there is some evidence to support the theory. According to theories and sources from the website ptanderson.com, Punch-Drunk Love originally intended an alien-related storyline and set designs which were eventually taken out of the film. There is some evidence to support the theory that Lena is an alien and the crash in the opening represents her arrival on earth, including the television sets which are playing the Apollo moon landing, or the alien-like flares seen throughout, or even the DVD Chapter titles "Lena Drops" and "Alien Abduction". On his website (ptanderson.com) Anderson was asked about this and his response was perfect: "I stand by that. Have you ever met anyone as lovely as Emily Watson that WASN'T from outer space?" This is such a perfect response because Anderson answers the question while still leaving the mystery and interpretation there. Really if this theory were to be true, wouldn't it be more effective left mysterious, personal, and as nothing more then a theory.

Ultimately my interpretation of the theory is that though there is some evidence to support it, I believe the expression more as Lena symbolically representing an alien-like figure to Barry. She is beautiful, mysterious, and new to Barry's life. Though I don't necessarily agree with it, I will say it is an interesting theory, which is nothing more then a theory, that ultimately further speaks of the depth of Punch-Drunk Love's endless artistic expression.


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