The Guardian Weekly - 2021-11-26


Licorice Pizza

Reviews | Culture Music

★★★★★ As a title for this California pastoral from the sunlit west coast 1970s, Licorice Pizza is whimsically inspired. According to writerdirector Paul Thomas Anderson, it’s the name of a defunct record store. This is a love story set in 1973, and far too interesting and complicated to be called “coming-of-age”. A fast-talking 15-year-old boy meets a bored 25-year-old woman who is a photographer’s assistant. She is amused, intrigued and depressed when this kid starts hitting on her. Anderson makes glorious movie stars of his two newcomers. Cooper Hoffman, above, son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, is eerily assured as Gary Valentine, whose child-actor career is coming to an end, and is running a cockamamie company selling waterbeds. Alana Haim, of pop band Haim (for whom Anderson has directed videos), is superb as the permanently exasperated Alana Kane. Alana breaks Gary’s heart by holding hands with another child actor; Gary infuriates Alana by putting the moves on a girl his own age. Alana retaliates by flirting with ageing movie star Jack Holden (Sean Penn). And this hypnotically gorgeous, funny, romantic movie freewheels from scene to scene, character to character, setpiece to setpiece, with absolute mastery. Every casual line, kiss, car ride, setup and joke is a joy. Peter Bradshaw Licorice Pizza is released on 26 November in the US, 26 December in Australia and 7 January in the UK


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