Over the past few weeks, I have been covering quite a few releases from the International market. With the Oscars lineup ready, we at Popcorn Reviewss have covered almost all the movies which are nominated. There are a few leftovers which we will be getting to soon. And one of those is now struck off our watchlist. With that I finished watching the new English film Licorice Pizza directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, a film which I was looking for since quite a while now. With the VOD available I could finally watch it. The film also releases in a theatre near you this weekend in India which is great news for all the cinephiles. Paul Thomas Anderson has always had a unique style of presenting a tried and tested subject which is why his storytelling stands out. That said is Licorice Pizza worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Set in 1973, Licorice Pizza is the coming off age story of Alana and Gary who have an age difference of 10 years between them as they navigate through the tides of first love in San Fernando Valley. The story may not seem very novel but it is a flavourful take on the genre for sure. While this is a Rom-Com, it is also a coming of age film as the two protagonist go on a journey of self discovery amidst the dynamics of being romantically involved. The screenplay is thoroughly enjoyable with high doses of comedy integrated in it. But at its core the romance does run through its veins throughout. I somehow feel that this is a bit of a niche as you need to have an acquired taste of the storytelling here. It is unlikely that it is universally appealing. The first spark which ignites when you meet someone is quite relatable here and shown in an organic manner. But soon the complexities of love set in which leads to jealousy, that as you continue to remain friends and look for ways to constantly stay in touch. That is something very well explored throughout the film. The drama is set distinctly against 4-5 independent events involving the protagonists which just adds a nice little layer of self discovery. The comedy here does make you laugh and it is a refreshing addition to the drama which ends on a lovely little note. Overall, the screenplay is really good.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The leisurely paced drama is conversational but the dialogues keep you engaged throughout. There isn’t a single dull moment primarily because the dialogues are good, creating some interesting situations. The BGM is quite brilliant and quite wonderfully blends with the drama. Director Paul Thomas Anderson is in total control here throughout. His storytelling technique definitely gives a fresh vibe to the film as a whole. And some clever meta references and characters mean that the direction is spot on.
The performances are pretty good. There are charming cameos from legends like Sean Penn and Bradley Cooper who add a lot of star power here. Nate Mann as Brian and Ryan Heffington as Steve are first rate. But the show belongs to the two debutants – Alana Haim as Alana and Cooper Hoffman as Gary. Cooper is an extremely affable person with child like traits that will definitely make you root for him. He is quite brilliant here. Alana looks gorgeous and being the matured one out of the two, she has a little more layer to her character and understandably so. She is terrific and delivers a memorable performance. Together they feed off each other and have a crackling chemistry between them.
Licorice Pizza is a flavourful rendition of the age old romance genre. This one is highly recommended.