MAGNOLIA (1999) 

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Tom Cruise
William H. Macy
Julianne Moore
Jason Robards
John C. Reilly
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Melora Walters
Jeremy Blackman
Philip Baker Hall
Alfred Molina
Melinda Dillon
Luis Guzman

Paul Thomas Anderson




Time: 180 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Drama/Romance

Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay, Best Song and Best Supporting Actor (Cruise).

Though I had some problems with how BOOGIE NIGHTS resolved itself, especially the last 45 minutes, I truly enjoyed the ride as a lover of film. It had its' flaws, but at least Paul Thomas Anderson was trying to create something new and unusual to expand the language of the medium. MAGNOLIA is a more fully fleshed out sophomore effort that grabs you and refuses to let go, even when you want to turn away. This is a bitterly honest film that exposes the hurt, anger, shame and hatred that sometimes makes up the key relationships in our lives.

Parents and children, husbands and wives, new love. No one is safe or free from guilt in this landscape. Everyone is looking for love or redemption. MAGNOLIA is an intellectual and emotional roller coaster that forces you to confront the demons in your own life. The film takes place over the course of one highly unusual and inclement day in the San Fernando Valley, where emotions run high and the past is unavoidable. The lives of all the characters are loosely connected with each other, intersecting with each other throughout the day.

Earl Partridge (Robards) is dying and all he wants is to speak to his long lost son Frank T.J. Mackay (Cruise), a man who's buried his past and reinvented himself as the ultimate seducer of women, becoming a role model for thousands of men. Earl's much younger second wife Linda (Moore), who originally married him for his money, is losing her mind watching a man she now desperately loves wasting away. The quiz show host on one of Earl's productions, Jimmy Gator (Hall), a household name for 30 years, has only months to live and just wants to go out with dignity and the love of his only daughter, Claudia (Walters).

Claudia wants nothing to do with her father, burying her pain in a mass of cocaine, until she meets Officer Jim Kurring (Reilly), a bumbling LAPD cop who's just trying to make it through every day while trying to help the people he is forced to come in contact with. The two quiz kids, one an aging has-been, Donnie Smith, the other a child genius, Stanley Spector, are merely looking for a little love and respect in a world that doesn't understand their intelligence. Phil Parma (Hoffman), Earl's at home nurse who is supposed to just be a bystander, can't help but come to love his dying charge and gets drawn into the tornado of emotions swirling around his patient.

The day begins calmly enough, but rain is in the forecast and as anyone who lives in Los Angeles knows, that only means trouble. Some of the characters redeem themselves, some of them find love, others run into a wall of utter despair. All of them are looking for a way out of the pain of their current emotional state – whether it be guilt, remorse, hatred, or loneliness. In the end, after a miraculous and surreal occurence – one of the weirdest and grossest "rain" storms on record – they each begin to pick up the pieces of their lives and start the next day fresh, renewed, saved or released. It's an acting tour de force with a soundtrack that captures the emotion of the film just perfectly.

"Now that I've met you, would you object to never seeing me again?"

Besides weaving amazing stories, Anderson knows how to draw phenomenal and unexpected performances from his actors. Everyone hit the nail on the head. On top of that, this may be Tom Cruise's most honest portrayal and amazing role to date. I am not a huge fan of his and I have to say he not only surprised me, but made my heart break. He might become a real actor after all. What ties everyone together and gives the film one of its strongest voices are the songs performed by Aimee Mann. The soundtrack weaves in and out of the characters lives like a sympathetic narrator. It's haunting, honest and inspiring. This is not a film everyone will enjoy. It's a long movie about pain and redemption, but if you're looking for something different, you won't be able to take your eyes off it.

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