Licorice Pizza ★★
Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Benny Sadie, Bradley Cooper
From start to finish the main take away from this film was the fantastic breakout role for Alana Haim in her performance as Alana Kane. This highly anticipated debut for the previously recognised musician is definitely expected to bring much more work for the Haim sister in the future. It was also great to see her family starring alongside her throughout the film as a hidden nod to fans.
The early 1970's stylistic approach alongside Alana's performance was the films saving grace, and are worth witnessing if you're interested in seeing Anderson's take on young adults tackling the 70's Hollywood lifestyle. The soundtrack was also great and deserves a mention as this was one of few main features bringing emotion to a somewhat mundane narrative. However I must admit that this is where the praise for the comedy/drama ends...
Although not all films need a well-structured narrative to be successful, Licorice Pizza felt incoherent in terms of pacing, which left little to no desire for those watching to build trust or relationships with any of the characters being represented. We also see countless somewhat irrelevant scenes that without their input, the clarity of the story would not have been impacted. This also feels like the right time to mention the racist, sexist and predatory undertones throughout that stopped the aesthetic of the film reaching any further than good production and soundtrack. Scenes that presented these themes added no development to the main characters and felt very much like fillers for the attempted unconventional (lack of) narrative structure.
The main plot sees the highs and lows of the relationship between Alana Kane and Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) which no-one was rooting for in the start, middle or end of the picture, given their hunger for fame and fortune. their misuse of each others power and not to mention their distinctive age difference (25 vs. 15). This puts a whole new spin on the aesthetic of the film and I'm sure left some other viewers feeling as if the 70's were chosen as the time period to 'get away with' glorifying these controversial topics.
If you're looking for a movie with a well-executed 70's-come-Hollywood aesthetic then you've met your match. But here, if shown through the juxtaposing romance of Kane and Valentines inappropriate romance, licorice and pizza clearly do not mix well.
Licorice Pizza available in select cinemas now