Too obvious to me. (And if it is because she's a waitress, why would Woodcock, who is so particular about everything else, want her?)I mean more, What is her past? All we know is she had a mother. I didn't need her whole history, but a small sense would have helped.
I don't think any of this necessarily constitutes a spoiler, but I'll tag it as such anyway since that's how the rest of the discussion is going:
I may be reaching here, but I came away feeling that all this ambiguity about her was one of the film's most interesting strengths. When the story begins, I think one is predisposed to sympathize with Alma just because she has a very warm, inviting demeanor compared to Woodcock's rather cold and distant attitude. By the end of the film, however, Woodcock's psyche has been pretty thoroughly deconstructed (by the film and by Alma herself) and he seems like a very simple creature with predictable, rudimentary motivations, however gifted he may be artistically. Alma, on the other hand, has become profoundly mysterious. I understand why some might feel she is just thinly sketched, but I think she is left enigmatic by design (though of course no one is obligated to like that design). The film seems to me intentionally constructed to give us a deeply disquieting version of a "happily ever after" ending, and part of that disquiet is in not understanding Alma's desires.
That being said, I think this is yet another Paul Thomas Anderson film that I admired more than I loved. I don't have anything to say against it, really—there's just something about his films that prevents them from really landing with me emotionally. It's really exquisitely made, though, full of wonderful aesthetic pleasures. It shines especially brightly in its costume design—obviously—and in Jonny Greenwood's score, which sounds like it was dropped in from some slightly off-kilter dream of 1950s melodrama. He has really proven to be an ingenious and versatile composer, and I have to give kudos to Anderson for giving him the opportunity to flourish like this.
Feiereisel wrote:I was surprised by the amount of (sometimes, though not always, nervous) laughter from the crowd. Other than the occasional clearly wry moment or line of dialogue, I didn't find the film to be remotely funny, and especially not unintentionally so.
Interesting, I found the film surprisingly funny (the audience I saw it with was laughing, as well). Obviously it's not going for "jokes," but I think humor rises naturally from many of the situations in the film. It's important to remember that laughter is also a way for the body to release tension, and I think Anderson is playing in very tense territory here that often seems like it could tip over into comedy or outright violence at any moment. Laughter seems to me like a natural response to that.
Incidentally, PTA was on Jimmy Kimmel the other night
, and seemed to approve when Kimmel said he was surprised how funny the film was.