Writer and director, Paul Thomas Anderson, follows Alana Kane and Gary Valentine (Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman) on their wild coming of age journey through the San Fernando Valley in the 1970’s in Licorice Pizza.
One of the more delightful films from Anderson’s roaster, Licorice Pizza, is joyful, nostalgic and relaxed, featuring vivacious performances from newcomers, Haim and Hoffman.
Although Hoffman’s performance as Gary exudes awkwardness and self-importance, it is Haim who truly steals the show with fire, wit and vulnerability. What a dynamic debut.
But together, they are a so sweet with undeniable chemistry. It is a pleasure to watch their relationship develop.
However, their relationship grows through an eclectic collection of stories that are…VERY LA to say the least.
This is where the experience lost me at times. The narrative would ebb and flow between moving stories, ridiculous stories, pointless stories, humorous stories, and even stories that featured short yet impactful performances by Sean Penn, Harriet Sansom Harris, and Bradley Cooper.
Understandably, relationships blossom through a vast collection of experiences. But even if I was going to explain how a couple ended up together, I would skip some of the blah part.
This is why the pacing felt so off to me. I would be invested in Alana’s budding political career, yet groan whenever we went back to mentioning the damned water beds.
But at the end of the day, Anderson has created a unique piece of cinema that radiates energy, youth and sweetness.
And if anything this gives us the gift of Alana Haim, so we should all be thankful.
Final Thoughts: Unexpectedly sweet yet strangely composed, Licorice Pizza is a very relaxed coming of age narrative and off best love story.