Magnolia

"Very Good"

Magnolia Review


An intricate mosaic of emotional stories intertwined by coincidence, "Magnolia" is an elegant exposé of human frailty written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who demonstrated his gift for burrowing under his characters' skins in 1997's melancholy porn industry soap opera "Boogie Nights."

He's honed that skill in the last two years, and his new multi-narrative, which features many of the same actors, is stunning and magnetic in its ability to tie you impulsively to even the most wretched of characters.

"Magnolia" takes place over the course of a single, unusually stormy (on a mythological scale) day in the San Fernando Valley and meditates on the complexities of family, and on the facades people put up to mask their insecurities, their grudges, greed and regret, their love, their selfishness and other symptoms of the human condition.

Jason Robards plays a dying rich man, painfully estranged from his rageful, resentful son, Tom Cruise. Cruise is astoundingly powerful as a vulgar, misogynistic, wildly egotistical motivational speaker who teaches emasculated men how to dominate and manipulate women.

Julianne Moore plays Robards' young wife, whose regrets about marrying for money have eaten away at her soul, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is his compassionate nurse who tries to reach Cruise to mend fences before it's too late.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Blackman is the brainy champ of a kiddie quiz show (featuring amusingly impossible questions) whose imposing stage father (Michael Bowen) has pressured him to the edge of manic neurosis. (A parallel track follows William H. Macy -- totally in his element -- as a mousy, miserable home furnishings salesman who clings desperately to his faded identity as the program's first star player some 35 years before.)

The quiz show host (Philip Baker Hall) is another ailing father trying to patch things up with his twittering, seething, cocaine-addicted daughter (Melora Walters), who in turn sees her chance for salvation in a kindly, insecure cop (John C. Reilly) who asks her out after taking a call about her loud stereo.

Each of these stories has such depth and scope they could easily be movies unto themselves -- especially with these across-the-board incredible performances that give the sense of these characters' entire lives. Anderson's dedication and skill at weaving them together with correlation and coincidence cannot be underestimated. He has this innate ability to turn everyday feelings of doubt, anxiety and ego into completely engrossing cinematic moments.

"Magnolia" has a beautiful, richly dark visual atmosphere that enfolds its characters and, as with "Boogie," Anderson's technique has a definite Scorsese bent to it. But you can't really fault the guy for taking his cues from one of the best, and the picture is otherwise entirely his own, as he demonstrates his rapt dedication to his stories -- and to his characters bulldozed by their emotions -- with rich details that bring an extra dimension of truthfulness to his film.

Cruise's performance is the most obvious example, as actor and director conspire successfully to garner our empathy for this loathsome, venomous egoist, even as we continue, by design, to despise him.

"Magnolia" is a potent work of concentrated humanity and a definite do-not-miss.



Magnolia

Facts and Figures

Run time: 188 mins

In Theaters: Friday 7th January 2000

Box Office Worldwide: $48.5M

Budget: $37M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Production compaines: Ghoulardi Film Company, The Magnolia Project, New Line Cinema

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 118 Rotten: 23

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Linda Partridge, William H. Macy as Donnie Smith, John C. Reilly as Jim Kurring, as Frank T.J. Mackey, as Jimmy Gator, as Phil Parma, as Earl Partridge, as Solomon Solomon, as Claudia Wilson Gator, as Rick Spector, as Stanley Spector, as Dixon, as Rose Gator, as Gwenovier, as Cynthia, as Worm, as Narrator/Burt Ramsey, as Delmer Darion, as Stanley Berry, as Thurston Howell, as Faye Barringer

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.