Addie’s film corner: “Licorice Pizza”

Addie Winter, Guest Writer

Set during the 1970s in the San Fernando Valley, “Licorice Pizza” delves into the growing relationship between 15 year old Gary Valentine and 25 year old Alana Kane. The film explores Gary’s unrequited pining for Alana, who is witty and realistic, juxtaposing Gary’s seeping charisma and aspiration. This is an era director Paul Thomas Anderson is well acquainted with, but with a new youthful lens. Some have used the phrase “no plot, just vibes” to describe movies such as “Dazed and Confused” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and I think it applies perfectly to “Licorice Pizza.”

Critically, the film has done well and it is currently up for three Academy Awards. Most of the praise is directed towards the breakout stars of the movie, Alana Haim (of the band Haim) and Cooper Hoffman, son of the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Both actors do not seem like conventional stars at first glance but are surprisingly magnetic on screen. It feels as though the audience is right there with them.

The film has received plenty of praise, though not without well deserved criticism. Many have pointed out the 10 year age gap between Alana and Gary, claiming their relationship is predatory. In my opinion, the age difference is essential in adding complexity to their star-crossed relationship.

This film means a lot to me because of the quirky humor, the realistic portrayal of young love and the enjoyment of spending time with someone you like. The film was shot on film, giving it a dreamy, nostalgic feel that could not have been captured digitally. The film’s main fault is its runtime, totaling two hours and thirteen minutes. There were many fun yet unnecessary scenes that could have been cut to decrease the runtime.

Overall, I recommend “Licorice Pizza,” but do not expect your average Hollywood cookie-cutter film. It is unconventional, almost bizarre at times (which is true to Anderson’s style) and is a breath of fresh air during this recent wave of generic superhero blockbusters.