Licorice pizza

Romantic comedy

Lpizza refers to a chain of record stores that flourished in the Los Angeles of the 1970s and 1980s, the brand having up to 34 stores in its heyday. A Proust madeleine for Paul Thomas Anderson, who decided to use the name for his latest film (instead of Soggy Bottom, his working title), without there being a direct link. This ninth feature film has, moreover, the appearance of a return to basics for the director of Magnolia, which sets the action in the San Fernando Valley, the setting where he grew up and the setting for his first films. The story begins in an almost innocuous way, in a high school in Encino: it’s class photo day, a circumstance that an enterprising student, Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman, worthy offspring of Philip Seymour), takes advantage of to try to chatting up the photographer’s assistant, Alana (Alana Haim, of the Haim trio), undeterred by their ten-year difference. Amused as much as intrigued by the glibness of the 15-year-old kid, she gets caught up in the game, agreeing to see him again, then to chaperone him in New York where, as a child actor, he must participate in a TV show. The sequel does not take exactly the expected path, which does not prevent them from crossing and recrossing once again under the Californian sun. Until soon becoming partners in a waterbed company, while she also prides herself on becoming an actress…

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Break of tone

If we except Inherent Vicethe filmography of Paul Thomas Anderson had taken, for fifteen years and There Will Be Blooda singularly tormented turn. Licorice Pizza marks, in this respect, a break in tone, the film, solar, adopting the carefree form of a zigzag romance made even more intoxicating by its heady 70’s flavor. PTA summons its cinephile imagination in passing, which is worth Sean Penn playing a well-hit William Holden, or Bradley Cooper releasing an anthology number in the guise of Jon Peters, producer and more of Barbra Streisand, among d other eccentricities. All accompanied by an unstoppable soundtrack – see the magical rocking moment to the sound of let me roll it by Paul McCartney & Wings – and performed with his customary virtuosity. We are with the director of The Master after all, and the film, under its light exterior, also appears as the synthesis of his cinema, with his character reminiscent of the Adam Sandler of Punch Drunk Lovea touch of madness Inherent Vice and a rereading of the laws of attraction in the manner of Phantom Thread. Add a duo of actors whose chemistry radiates from the screen and we hold there like an enchanted parenthesis. The 2 h 13 that lasts Licorice Pizza are a concentrate of happiness. If it’s not the movie of the year, it looks like it…

By Paul Thomas Anderson. With Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Benny Safdie. 2:13 a.m. Dist: Universal. Available on Blu-ray and VOD.

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