Punch Drunk Love

Director – Paul Thomas Anderson + Wikipedia
Composer – Jon Brion

Sound re-recording mixer – Gary Rydstrom
Sound re-recording mixer – Michael Semanick

Supervising sound editor – Phil Benson
Sound designer – Christopher Scarabosio

Sound effects editor – Aura Gilge
Sound effects editor – J.R. Grubbs
Sound effects editor – Stephen Kearney
Sound effects editor – Kirk Denson

Production sound mixer – Ron Judkins
Boom operator – Robert Jackson

Dialogue editor – Jonathan Null
Dialogue editor – Ewa Sztompke

ADR recordist – Rick Canelli
ADR mixer – Thomas J. O’Connell

Foley artist – Dennie Thorpe
Foley artist – Marnie Moore
Foley artist – Jana Vance
Foley mixer – Tony Eckert
Foley mixer – Ben Conrad
Foley recordist – Frank Rinella
Foley recordist – Frank ‘Pepe’ Merel
Foley editor – Andrea S. Gard
Foley editor – Shannon Mills

First assistant sound editor – Jennifer Barin
Assistant sound editor – Chris Barron
Assistant sound editor – Coya Elliott
Assistant sound editor – Stuart McCowan
Assistant sound editor – Marcie Romano
Assistant sound editor – Steve Slanec

Additional production sound mixer – Peter F. Kurland
Additional boom operator – Knox White
Additional boom operator – Lawrence L. Commans
Utility sound – Kat Craig
Sound utility – Peggy Names
Sound recordist – Sean Landeros
Sound recordist – Kathleen McCart
Sound recordist – Eric Bretter
Sound recordist – Jeremy Peirson
Sound recordist – Gary Ritchie
Assistant sound engineer – Koji Egawa
Assistant sound engineer – John Hendrickson
Assistant sound engineer – Steve Mixdorf
Sound mix technician – Brandon Proctor
Machine room operator – Sean England
Machine room operator – Mark Purcell
Sound editorial technical support – Noah Katz
Sound editing intern – Michael Lemass

PostProduction Sound – Skywalker Sound

Total Budget (est) – US$25M


  1. tim Post author

    A few online resources & links:

    “Anderson has always used sound effectively in his films, but as a form of emotional and psychological expression, sound is taken to a entirely new height in Punch-Drunk Love. One of the great ways sound is used (besides it’s masterful collaboration with Brion’s music) is through a seemingly internal or psychological feeling for Barry. Often there are sounds in the film that seem to only exist in Barry subconscious. Again, Anderson is extending the conventions of film narrative by expressing emotion, story and characterization through sound.
    A couple examples: Take the opening sequence. As Barry is on the phone in the opening shot he hears something. After he hangs up he go outside where he thought he heard the sound. It is then that the cab flips over, and is immediately followed by the taxi that drops the harmonium. Another example comes the day after Barry’s run-in with the four blonde brothers. Barry is talking with Lance in his office when he suddenly stops and stares at the pudding, which seems to be subconsciously talking to him. He then says “I better get more pudding”, and tells Lance he is going to Hawaii. Loud sudden sounds are also used throughout the film (the truck that drives by Barry and the harmonium, Lance opening the garage, Barry beating up the bathroom, etc). Anderson is using the sound (like the music) as an additional form of expression, used to heighten the connection with Barry’s emotional and psychological feelings.”

  2. tim Post author

    The first thing that struck me re-watching & listening to this film mix again, is how much of the film is told through Barry Egan (Adam Sandlers) point of view. Its established very early on that Barry has a somewhat unique take on the world & I think this is very cleverly explored throughout the film with sound, music & dialogue…

    I remember the first time I saw the film in the cinema, how effective the opening was; when we see & hear the world & the ambiences in the street @02.00 are so detailed & yet that car approaching is silent – it becomes dreamlike until @2.25 WHAM! The car hits & rolls… and then seemingly disappears as the Harmonium is dropped off… It made me think: did that car accident actually happen or did he imagine it? Or is his perception so anxious & tunnel visioned that as soon as something stranger/more immediate occurrs he then is absorbed by it…. such great complex thoughts to be having about a lead character mere moments into the film…

    But the use of restraint & controlling what the audience hears is beautifully handled throughout the film – not hearing the truck approach until Barry grabs the Harmonium @7.02

    Again @14.00 there is a beautiful drift/shift in the ambiences as Barry looks at her car…

    1. borja

      Indeed. The location sound (or what sounds like location sound) is very present and crude. you can hear every little detail amplified, which adds up to that suffocating sensation that runs throughout the film. Everything is so tense and stressful and awkward. And we sense it in a way that is almost hyper real. When I was a teenager I used to take acid often. It feels exactly like the first half of this film. That bright light. The colors. The camera movements… well, that and Jon Brion’s restless music. Wonderful.
      One of my favorite moments is when Barry goes to his sister’s birthday and they’re frantically talking and talking and talking. It’s nerve wrecking, and of course Barry smashes the windows. Great moment.

  3. tim Post author

    Contrast & dynamics is another recurring theme in the soundtrack

    @08.58 the loud door open startles Barry & reinforces that ‘normality’ is other people & Barry lives in his own slightly odd little world…

    @20.40 contrasts the general supermarket & freezer ambience with when he opens the freezer door, and then recurrs @21.45 when he arrives back at the freezer again although the audience cannot see it…

    @47.30 the distorted bathroom scene – in a way this is a pay off from earlier @18.40 when Barry smashes the roller door windows in response to his sisters teasing him.. Except in the restaurant with Lena he cant express his rage at her…

    1. Michal Fojcik

      there are some dog barks and crowd sounds when loading door opens (@0.08.32). outside world comes into his world/office

      1. borja

        Barry is chatting away with the phone lady for the first time. The camera starts swinging and drifting. There is a very specific sound happening. Cut to barry in bed @ around 29:10. Two claps, light off, sound off. Morning again. The phone lady calls back and we hear the sound from the previous night.

  4. tim Post author

    Jon Brions score does a fantastic job of expressing the crazy emotional world Barry lives in… Interesting that the first music cue is not until half way through R1 @8.10 and starts as a source music from the Harmonium….
    The meshing of source music elements with score is very effective throughout – the phone tones @11.40, the recurring harmonium, the Hawaian band singing about loneliness…

    1. Michal Fojcik

      @0.30.39 glass squeaks – barry in the office, hand rubs in music track. representing chaos & anxiety in his head.
      music track melts with foley/fx tracks

  5. tim Post author

    The soundtrack plays with genre quite a lot & if you watched the sequence from 55.00 -> 57.30 you would almost think it was from a horror film. There are beautifully dark evocative tonal elements (score? sound design?) meshed with the ambiences from 55.00 but the total lack of ambience from 55.30 until the reveal Barry at ATM is unnerving… But its wry, almost tongue in cheek sense; as its genre vs Barrys anxieties eg as he runs to escape & the film escalates to horror from 56.30 (Jon Brions cute melody revisited in shrill almost hitchcock-like shrill arpggeios) until 57.30 when reality is revealed by the truck pulling up alongside Barry: “Where are you running to? We know where you live” and then drives off…

  6. jeff p

    doh I typed out all of my notes and hit a bookmark and lost everything 🙁 I should type in a program and then paste it in from now on 🙁

    Lets try again in gmail albeit a little shorter and more to the point this time (probably for the best actually)

    I really enjoyed watching this film. I think Adam Sandlers did a great job playing Berry and I really think no one else could do it.

    The intro was wonderfully done. Silence, Berry on the phone, uncomfortable chair movements and phone cord. I really enjoyed how much in his space we were as the loud door opens and reveals backgrounds. This happens again in the supermarket as we are there in silence until the freezer opens.

    As Lena drops her car off I was struck by how loud and heavy her footsteps were. I feel that it really helped us believe that she was something special for Berry that he was focusing on her. I felt this again as she was walking away and her steps were at that same constant volume and centered over a shot of Berry watching her leave.

    Just as Berry begins to play the harmonium you can hear trains in the distance. The similarities of these sounds was striking and I enjoyed moving from the train to source/score. This whole shot just worked really well.

    I loved all of the chair sounds throughout the film. From the uncomfortable chair squeaks during his phone sex operator call to the leather cushion making a small uncomfortable but loud sound right before he attempts to tell Lena about the coupons in the restaurant.

    I LOVED the distortion during the bathroom smash scene. I thought I could hear different drums during each hit. The distortion itself was very pleasing and analog sounding.

    As he is talking to Lance about going to Hawaii the interference sounds and voices that catch his attention are cool. The music and design blend so well together through out the film.

    I loved the shot of Lena and Berry kissing in Hawaii and the little motorized wheel chair flys by. These are the kinds of detail that just allow for a richness in sound.

    The car with Berry and Lena being hit by the pickup was very sudden. I liked how the impact on the car was hard cut to the internal breathing silence as they spun and then it picked up at the exact same frame that it left off at before we went internal. This really helped the sense of slow motion.

    and again the chair creaks at the end as Dean the mattress man turns to confront Berry. I feel like all of these creaks for some reason gave me the comedy I wanted at those moments.

    ok thats all for now. Great film. Amazed that there was no ADR.

  7. Michal Fojcik

    subjective sounds:
    – unfriendly wind: outside the barry’s office @0.01.44; @0.28.13 in the morning – going to work; @0.53.14 – scene with brothers on parking
    – @0.06.12 alone on the street with the harmony – very quiet atmo – loneliness
    – @0.17.19 sisters “chating” group loop comes very loud, sisters are dominating over him
    – @0.21.36 scene – barry hides when calling sex phone – he pulls blinds, closes door lock. everywhere he goes some sounds from outside are heard (cars, dog etc) – hyperreal
    – @0.45.17 after lena’s line restaurant group loop comes up. before was just the room tone. when she is speaking all the world disappears for him.
    – @1.12.28 barry smashes brothers car – we hear something like PA system from hawaian airport (@01.10.52) – that’s the source of his power

  8. Michal Fojcik

    sound design in supporting role:
    – @0.28.26 durig sex phone call – delayed&filtered sounds after georgia’s lines – different voices?
    – @0.55.31 short slices of pudding voice just making anxious noise and predicts pudding line (@0.55.46 pudding speaks)

  9. Brendan J. Hogan

    As was mentioned before the film is told from Barry’s point of view. It’s the classic “unreliable narrator” device although it’s not made explicit that the story is being narrated, nothing overtly tips us off that the film is from his perspective although it very much is.
    The makers of this film have an astonishing mastery of the subtleties of their craft. Every sound creates an emotional reaction even though, in many cases, I still don’t know how or why. There’s a flag pole sound for instance at the beginning of the film as he’s walking past the chain link fence. Perhaps it’s meant to be coming from there, but it’s unmistakably the sound of a flag pole, the rope blowing in the wind and hitting against the pole itself. I think many people have that sound ingrained in their minds. I’m not entirely sure what it’s meant to represent but it crops up all throughout the film.
    All the fidgeting sounds mentioned before were also very effective. It’s Barry who is fidgeting throughout the film but at the end it’s mattress man who sits in his chair and fidgets.

  10. Enos Desjardins

    Wow! Just watched the film today and was honestly quite blown away with the sound! Howcome I’ve never seen or heard of this film before? I must say it has possibly entered my top 5 films for sound. The opening 10 minutes are quite amazingly orchestrated. The subtle detail in everything, the rich yet very subtle backgrounds (hums,etc..), the subjective POV’S eg: @2.00 followed by the contrast of the crash.

    One thing I liked was at the beginning of the film, when he is talking to Lena the first time they meet, his lack of confidence and his uneasiness is emphasized by a subtle squeaking of his shoes. This emphasizes his feelings of not being comfortable around people.

    Also, the first time the music comes in, with the rhythmic drumming, is when he first is shown in his public life (at work,etc..) This drumming starts pounding and keeps going creating a tension and unrest, again emphasizing his uneasiness in public.

    I’l get back soon!

  11. Enos Desjardins

    Ok! I was able to sit down and watch the film in peace in the 5.1 dubbing suite I mix in. This film really has some taste regarding the use of sound. Not many films use sounds so powerfully as a storytelling asset in evolving the plot and describing the characters (especially Barry).

    As Tim mentioned, most of the film is sonically viewed (or heard) from Barry’s perspective. The sound and the way he hears everything around him is a strong descriptive tool that sets and develops his character. Right from the start, Barry is described as a lonely and shy person who has some trouble interacting with people and who spends a lot of his time caught up in his own world. He very often wanders off in his thoughts as his attention is caught by small events that happen around him:

    @01.10 – subtle sounds distract Barry from his opening phone conversation

    @01.45 – Barry dissapears in his thoughts and all outside noises cut out as we focus on a dreamy soundscape with clear details such as the flapping fabric as we enter the street)

    @05:31 – Barry is fully caught up with Lena after meeting her and as she walks up to him and then again as she leaves, her footsteps are almost overwhelmingly loud expressing how Barry is fully focused on her.

    @24.18 – Barry is waiting for a call and he focuses on the phone so we enter a moment of near silence as all outside sounds cut off

    @41.35 – In the restaurant, as Lena speaks all background disappears as Barry is engulfed with her presence..but the atmos then returns as he speaks

    Throughout the film it is as if the sound is showing us what Barry is thinking and focusing on at any moment, the same way as the camera and shots are showing us what he sees at any moment.

    As mentioned, it is as if he focuses on one object, action or sound at a time and gets fully absorbed by it and only wakes up from his daydreaming when something drastic occurs.

    His shy and lonely personality is also described with great efficiency through subtle details:

    @04:00 – squeaking of his shoes as he first meets Lena and then againa t several uncomfortable moments of the film
    @22.28 – Barry is sat down and his chair creaks as he nervously awaits a call from the telephone sex service
    Also, Barry is shown as having a lack of confidence (especially in the first part of the film)as well as being slightly trampled over by many around hi, and many sonic elements portray this:

    @10.26 & 11.02 – Barry is talking to a customer and is constantly being interrupted by the building’s announcement PA. He is being shouted over and he just stops and waits for the PA to end

    @15.10 – Barry’s sisters are all talking very loud as Barry first enters the house and throughout the scene. They are cosntantly judging him and he feels intimidated.

    @ 45.40 – Distorted sound as Barry smashes the toilet indeed enhances his inner frustration of not being able to let go of his stress as he did , for example, in this first scene at the family reunion where he smashed the windows in front of everyone. He does not Lena to see him like that so he runs to the toilet and smashes things around.

    Regarding his loneliness:
    @19.51 – In the supermarket we can not hear any other people around as we hear extreme detail in some very subtle hum of the room and then the hum changes and gets louder as Barry opens the fridge. This level of detail with only very light hum in the backgroudn happens also in his office and workplace and all adds on in depicting him as a solitary guy!

    The music in the film is also used as a great storytelling tool:

    @ 33.20 – The music creates a tremendous tension and hectic moment as Barry’s sister arrives with Lena and Barry feels intimidated and oppressed by his sister’s way of treating him

    @ 47.20 – Music takes over as there is a moment of uncomfortable silence between Barry and Lena. However, @65.00 there is another long moment of silence, but this time there is no tension and we can feel they are both more relaxed and just enjoying each other’s presence

    A nice sound design moment occurs when the 4 blonde brothers crash into Lena and Barry and the car spins as the sound cuts out and we can only hear the gasping and breathing of Lena!

    @77.53 – As Barry arrives to D&D mattresses, we enter total silence as a symbolic calm before the storm. Barry is angry and is focused on finding the shop owner and put things straight.

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