The comedy-drama directed by Paul Thomas Anderson “Licorice Pizza” premiered at the Keene Putnam Theatre from April 28 to 30.

The film takes place in 1973 San Fernando Valley following 15-year-old Gary Valentine and 25-year-old Alana Kane. They meet at Gary’s school picture where Alana is working as a photography assistant and Gary asks out Alana to dinner. She is put off by this invitation but decides to go that night.

From this moment on in the film, we see how age plays in their relationship, experiencing the world from two different perspectives while they are together in ‘70s California.

We learn Gary is a child actor with a mother who works in advertising for restaurants and who is always traveling to Las Vegas. Gary takes care of his little brother and is the man of the house because there’s no father figure in the picture.

Alana is still living with her parents and sisters and is from a Jewish family. We see the dynamic between her sisters and Alana because they work for their father’s real estate business which Alana didn’t want to go into.

What I found interesting about this film is the world being created for this story. It was a cool time period piece of 1973 and the cultural attitudes of the day, the styles, cars, and overall aesthetic.

Some moments of the film were uncomfortable because of situations that transpire while knowing the age gap between the characters. However, I felt the performance of the actors was effective for the piece it was telling.

This film is the first featurelength film for the lead actors Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman. Both of them and the supporting cast did a good job in their roles.

Additionally, I enjoyed the cinematography and that it nailed the early ‘70s vibe, especially incorporating reallife events like the 1973 Gas Crisis. It works well with the story and showcases the two perspectives of the world where Alana had to explain to Gary what happened during a press conference of President Richard Nixon.

It was fascinating to see Gary working in his business ventures like the waterbed business and the pinball arcade. It was cool to see Alana become his business partner and at times be the voice of reason. I felt they worked together over the course of the film.

In addition to the cinematography, I enjoyed the soundtrack, especially the usage of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars”. Some moments reminded me of early films like “The Graduate” and “Taxi Driver.” I like when directors pay homage to early works and incorporate them into their art.

“Licorice Pizza” was a decent film with many elements to enjoy and an overall interesting perspective.

Shawn Belden can be contacted

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