Licorice Pizza (2021) Review

Licorice Pizza Is a Film To Be Felt, Not Understood.


Licorice Pizza – Paul Thomas Anderson and the Age Of Innocence

Paul Thomas Anderson has been working in the film industry since 1996 with his directorial debut Hard Eight. PTA is known for his great, big stories and quite well written characters. Licorice Pizza is Paul Thomas Anderson’s 9th feature length film and came out on Christmas Day of 2021. I first viewed this picture the day before New Year’s Eve, having it be the film I ended the year off with, and, well, it certainly was a great note to end the year off on. I was treated to this film once again on January 5th, the day before my birthday, with a friend, which really brought out my favorite elements of the film. PTA has once again proven what a master of his craft he truly is. Without further ado, let’s get into the film.

This film stars Alana Haim, known as a member of the band ‘HAIM’, and Cooper Hoffman, son of the late PTA regular, Philip Seymour Hoffman. This is both of their acting debuts in a feature length film, and by my standards, they both did an absolutely splendid job; however, it’s Alana Haim where the light really shines, respectfully. Alana Haim lit up the screen with both her aggressive wit and delightful charm. A great aspect about this film is how all the characters, even its small characters played by well-known actors (Bradley Cooper, Sean Pean, Tom Waits), all feel real. The characters are extremely realistic in their own dream-like story. Paul Thomas Anderson has always had a way with creating such great, memorable characters, but this film above any other has characters that feel like people I know or people I’d meet. They all feel real. 

Paul Thomas Anderson is no stranger to having me leave a film mesmerized by the way the camera moves. The camera and PTA are like a dancer in a ballet. PTA has done the cinematography for Phantom Thread, his last film that came out in 2017, as well as this film. Some of the shots in this film felt a little dull and not the most unique or creative of shots, but it’s more the camera movements and how the camera carries on a scene from one shot to another that makes up for it. There are so many interesting movements and ways a scene moves visually that adds depth into its visual storytelling.

Licorice Pizza is Paul Thomas Anderson sharing his love for an era of problematic relationships, innocent corruption of the young, and above all, the music of the 70s. This film explodes with some great needle drops that create such a refreshing and soothing atmosphere that adds to just how fun this film is.

With all good films comes its cons. This film is a fun, exciting and very refreshing time; however, there are some aspects of this film I can’t pass aside. The first being the obvious, the age gap. As beautiful as this film can be sometimes, it’s a film about a 15-year-old falling in love with a 25-year-old. The film brings this up many times and understands itself, but for some viewers this may be a turn off. The other and most strange aspect of the film is its reoccurring joke (twice) that comes off as cringy and casual racism.

Overall, this is a film to be felt and experienced, not a film to understand. All art has a purpose, even if it’s just to bring the audience a simple emotion. A person can hate on this film for its lack of plot style in storytelling and people may dislike its character/story approach, but what this film accomplishes is so much more than just a moving story; this film makes me feel things I can only feel by watching a film. A quote from filmmaker Robert Bresson sums up my feelings for this film a lot more than this whole review: “I’d rather people feel a film before understanding it. I’d rather feelings arise before intellect.”

4.5/5 – This Film Starring Benny Safdie was a Good Time (2017)