A glimpse into the lives of several interconnected characters searching
for meaning in their lives during the course of one cathartic day.
Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Philip
Baker Hall, Jason Robards, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, Melora Walters, Jeremy Blackman, Michael Bowen, Melinda Dillon,
Alfred Molina, Ricky Jay, Felicity Huffman, Henry Gibson
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actor (Tom Cruise),
Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song (Save Me)
Magnolia is the film that made Paul Thomas Anderson a household name in the world of independent film. It's ambitious as hell, has no coherent plot, and is a little over three hours long. On paper, I should absolutely hate this. But it's positively brilliant thanks to the realistic characters and the mesmerizing screenplay. The ensemble is to die for, and the performances are beyond stellar, with a lot of these actors delivering some of their best work of their respective careers. While not for the casual movie watcher, Magnolia brings a lot to the table for hardcore film buffs and seekers of intense, original film.
There are roughly nine separate stories happening all at once here. Our major players are chauvinistic self-help guru Frank T.J. Mackey (Cruise), dying patriarch Earl Partridge (Robards), his nurse Phil (Hoffman), and his depressed wife Linda (Moore), former quiz kid Donnie Smith (Macy), current quiz kid Stanley Spector (Blackman) and his father (Bowen), lonely cop Jim Kurring (Reilly), dying game show host Jimmy Gator (Hall) and his junkie daughter Claudia (Walters). All of these phenomenal actors performed admirably, particularly Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose performances brought me to tears. Their story was the standout, to me at least, but any one of these could hold that honor for anyone else.
Magnolia is a great film, but it doesn't need to be three hours long. You could shave an hour off this beast and still have a great movie, possibly a better one. But upon a first viewing, it's an engaging watch that keeps you interested the entire time thanks to the characters and the bizarre situations they keep finding themselves in. But it never gets too unbelievable, apart from the frog weather. Most of the time, it just feels like real people living broken lives in the San Fernando Valley. Paul Thomas Anderson is great at writing real people, and it would appear he's been great since the beginning.