Licorice Pizza sounds like one of the grossest concoctions ever to be created, I truly cannot in good conscious recommend topping your slice of pizza with licorice. However, what I can recommend and very much do is getting to see the new Paul Thomas Anderson flick of the same name as soon as you can and as safely as you can. It would be even better if you can see it in glorious 70mm film instead of a DCP, but only a few lucky cities get that privilege. I normally don’t like Paul Thomas Anderson, I find his work to be rather hit or miss frankly, but Licorice Pizza amps up the 70s to a 20 and truly delivers something incredible. Licorice Pizza will be analyzed, discussed, dissected and admired for decades to come and is an instant coming of age classic.
The movie focuses on 15 year old Gary played by the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son, Cooper Hoffman, as he takes himself to be a one of a kind entrepreneur always able to get one business up, leave when its slowly dying, and hop onto the next big thing. He’s making a name for himself, knows everyone in town, and truly doesn’t take no for an answer. He gets what he wants, and works damn hard to get it. This all changes for him when he meets 27 year old photographer Alana played by Alana Haim, and wants her. She, with very good reason, resists his never ending charm, but eventually agrees to be friends with him and joins him on his journey of madness to become one of the most influential teenagers of the 70s and make sure that his legacy is set. Throughout Licorice Pizza their relationship develops through different means of madness, whether that be new schemes, running from the law, or just messing with the wrong people, Gary and Alana truly have a bond that is hard to deny.
Aside from some of the years best, and most shocking performances Licorice Pizza is one of the most beautiful looking films to hit screens this year. The performances are shocking because both Alana and Gary have never acted before, sure Alana is part of the wildly successful band with her sisters but acting is an entirely different beast. The film itself is a beautiful homage to the 70s with the neons, colours, outfits, and cameos bringing forward everything about that time period people love. Paul Thomas Anderson manages to perfectly weave this time period, with a story that is absolutely timeless, packing together one incredible story with performances that cannot be missed.
The supporting cast in Licorice Pizza is also one that cannot be dismissed as it consists of the likes of Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, and Ben Safdie which together pack together everything to create one of the years must see films! Licorice Pizza does exactly what it sets out to do, without having that stench of Oscar season bait. It is a beautiful coming of age story, surrounded by brilliant performances, a vibrant rich tapestry of set design and an overall impeccable message.