Starring: Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 3 hr 8 min
Beautifully crafted, sweeping and unusual. This epic tale of coincidence is a celebration of how interconnected we all are and how we affect each others emotions and decisions. You could equally see it as a great study of oddballs trying to reach out to others and atone for past sins and hurts. I get different things every time I see it as we follow about 9 characters (it’s not made clear, but all are, apparently, living on the same street called Magnolia). Each character gets well serviced and as a result gives the film a 3 hour run time.
We watch in fascination as they go about their troubled lives and we get much drama and toil dealt to us. The film tackles many subject matters as disperse as: dealing with terminal illness, drug addiction, child abuse, homosexuality, loneliness, being a child prodigy, being struck dumb, unrequited love and being a sex guru! It sounds weird and grim but it’s done with wicked dark humour and a great deal of honesty and compassion.
We observe and if we judge it’s really just a way for us to consider our own hang ups and worries. Everything is tackled head on but we never linger too long as we are constantly whisked to another story and round and round we go. There are times where the film flits between all of the characters like they are on a roulette wheel as the camera whip pans round to briefly reveal another character in order to place them in real time to one another. The camera work is fast, gliding and mobile which makes it feel like a dizzy opera .
All these elements make it unconventional and interesting. The soundtrack keeps pace and helps provide a nervous rhythm and a fast pace as it plays over many disconnected and emotionally intense scenes. There must have been many storyboards for this superbly edited film and the whole thing feels really meticulous and well thought out. The film is divided into a few sections with weather predictions as the film races towards an end impossible to predict. The conclusion is so crazy weird, ridiculous and sublime I will not and still cannot explain it. There are too many actors to sing their praises but Tom Cruise in particular is superb as an obnoxious (seeming) man who thinks he’s gods gift to women and sells self help books to lure women into traps to be used as objects.
It’s big, it’s long, it’s great! Many fantastic actors go through the grinder here and it’s never boring, always thrilling, and always fun. You will come out feeling tired and exulted from all of the humanity on show here at its saddest, worst and hopeful. Don’t let the run time put you off, get comfy and buckle up – it’s a ride you’ll be glad you took.
HD Big screen a bonus as it’s visually glorious and moves fast.
The wacky end that I cannot give away! You’ll never forget it and you will understand why we get meteorological titles occasionally and the narrator telling you weird freaky tales at the start give a hint, but I won’t say any more about it.