<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Skyler Gisondo, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, John Michael Higgins, Harriet Sansom Harris, Ben Safdie, Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper

Licorice Pizza is an offbeat period romantic comedy with lots of drama and weirdness thrown in.

With no clear direction in which to flow, Licorice Pizza takes us on a winding journey during the 1970s in San Fernando Valley, California. Fifteen-year-old Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman, Philip Seymore-Hoffman’s son) is a child actor who likes a good hustle and experiments with several business opportunities like water beds. He bumps into 20-something Alana (Alana Haim) and it’s love at first sight, but they’re not boyfriend-girlfriend because duh!

Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim in Licorice Pizza

The film gives you a good sense of the carefree times when you could run through the streets and start your own water bed business and then turn it into a pinball gaming shop even before you’re old enough to vote.

Sean Penn (R) in Licorice Pizza

Surprise appearances from some big Hollywood names like Sean Penn, John Michael Higgins and Bradley Cooper make this eccentric little film even more so and delightfully insightful about the psyche of the times. However, it is these two unknown actors – Cooper and Alana – that carry the film marvellously. It’s a coming of age sort of film showing us how it was to grow up in those simpler, yet complicated times. Teenage angst and pranks were the norm. Kids behaved like grown ups but with purpose and not just bravado.

Bradley Cooper (L) in Licorice Pizza

Is Licorice Pizza a love story or a story of growing up? It’s probably both but more importantly a story of how being friends and experiencing life as it should be can contribute to forming an unlikely – and somewhat taboo – romance. The music and feel of the film transport you to a time we all probably wish we could go back to.

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