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  • Writer's pictureEugene

Licorice Pizza (2021)

Despite the triple threat of rain, fireworks and the dark night, the hall was almost full. The 2021 film Licorice Pizza, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, had certainly pulled in the crowds.

Our discussion group generally loved the never-a-dull-moment film, with a few reservations. We talked about the relationship between 15-year-old Gary Valentine (played by Cooper Hoffman) and the 25-year-old Alana Kane (Alana Haim), set in the San Fernando Valley in 1973.

There was honesty, love, charm and innocence in their relationship, whereas Alana’s relationships with older men always promised much but were a let-down. The age difference and the fact that the actors were older than the parts they played, generally didn’t seem to be an issue for us.

For one member of the discussion group, Gary remained ‘smarmy’ and annoying throughout the film. Alana was appreciated for her feistiness. The authentic Jewishness of her and family, particularly the Shabbat Friday night meal scene, was valued.

We shared our standout scenes. Much appreciated was the hilarious meeting with the bizarre owner of a Japanese restaurant who uses a ridiculous mock Japanese accent. We were touched by the moving sense of connection between Alana and Matthew, the city councilman’s hidden gay partner. The sudden wrong arrest of Gary for a murder took us all by surprise.

The shorts, themed to the 1970s, were enjoyed. We loved seeing how the iconic Hovis advertisement was saved by the BFI and witnessing a world before instant internet access to information. Ben told the story of his dad’s meeting with Johnny Rotten when he was at college and we nostalgically shared other memories of the punk era.

Sartorial note: I dressed to reflect Gary’s white suit and pink shirt, seen towards the end of the film. Thanks to Hospice in the Weald bridal shop for the white tie (£2) and to my husband for the pink shirt.


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