3 hours and 8 minutes that I was fully glued on to.
Through chance, human action, past history and divine intervention, an eclectic cast of characters (including Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy and more) weaves and warps through each other’s lives on a random San Fernando Valley day, building to an unforgettable climax.
This is that one film that almost every critic loves, either because everybody loves the director, or just loves it because it is awesome. I cannot agree anymore with both reasons.
PT Anderson is an amazing director and can almost do no wrong. Here, he takes a page out of Robert Altman‘s book and takes all these stories, with a long running time, and makes each and every one interesting as anything. You would think with all these characters and stories, that you would get lost in between them all, but somehow Anderson creates tension and space within these stories so it’s all easy to follow along with. I still don’t know how Anderson got all of these stories to be so interesting but the dedication he gives to every story, ultimately keeps our minds on every single one.
The script is what really kept me involved because it must have been really hard to actually have all of this mean something in the end, and Anderson does that so well. There’s a lot of themes and points about happiness, forgiveness, and the overall meaning of life. Sometimes the feelings and emotion we have kept all up in inside, need to be let out, and in order for us to be happy we need to let these emotions be free and gain a better understanding of ourselves and the others around us. I loved what PT Anderson does with this script, because he makes it seem like everything is going to play out in the end through chance, but instead he totally pulls the rug out from underneath us and gives us something new and inventive that really works. Each and every story is filled with great dialogue that shows some funny as well as brutally emotional scenes, that will have you understand, that their are people out there like this, and that we all have problems and need love.
Also, when it comes to soundtracking emotional score music, whoever thought that Aimee Mann would be such a good choice? She brings so much to the table here, and actually brings out one of the most memorable scenes of the whole entire film.
A lot of people will talk about how the events that happen in this film are absurd, but I liked that part about it. However, my main problem with this film is that there are too many biblical references and ideas here that just seem to sort of take away from the story as a whole. Lines are actually said that reference the bible, and faith explanations, and this all seemed a little hoaky for me and just showed that maybe PT Anderson really did try too hard to get this film to be about something more than what it really was all about.
This is probably one of the best ensemble casts of all-time, because each and everyone adds so much more to their own story that it’s spell-binding. John C. Reilly is endearing as well as lovable as the nerdy cop Officer Jim Kurring, who brings so much likability to this role, that by the end of the film when you start to see where his character is going, you can’t help but love him. Melora Walters plays the girl he ends up going after, Rose Gator, who has some huge emotional problems but not once did I feel like Dillon was over-acting at all. William H. Macy’s story as Donnie Smith may not have been as interesting, but Macy brings out so much within this character that I couldn’t help but stayed glued to it. Philip Baker Hall is amazing as game show host Jimmy Gator, and gives it his all almost every single scene and just had me attached to his story every time it was on screen. Jason Robards in his last role ever as Earl Partridge, gives one of the perfect good-byes to cinema ever, and gives us more insight into this guy’s life through this whole film, even though he is just in his bed the whole entire film. Philip Seymour Hoffman is always amazing in what he does, and his performance as Phil is no different although he brings so much more to his character than you would expect. Somehow this guy makes crying all the time, really good. Jeremy Blackman gives an amazing youngling performance as the real heart of this film, Stanley, and it’s such a shame that he doesn’t do much anymore, because he does an amazing job here and gives me my most memorable character of the whole film. Julianne Moore plays crazy bitch Linda Partridge so well that I actually did start to believe that any second this chick would just snap and kill anybody who said the next wrong thing to her.
However, the best performance of this whole cast had to be that crazy, scientologist freak that is Tom Cruise. Cruise was perfectly cast as Frank Mackey, because the guy is such an asshole, and so cocky that it works well with Cruise’s own public image, but it also got to show that Cruise really can give off a performance even if he is self-parodying himself. Almost every single chance this guy gets, he absolutely demands your attention and you can help but give it to him, especially when his character’s true emotions come out, and then you see Cruise for what he is. An amazingly dedicated actor. This is one of Cruise’s best performances and that one perfect casting job, that shows a celebrity as more than just a pretty face on the cover of People magazine.
Consensus: Magnolia may suffer from being too pretentious, but Anderson does a creative and original job with his script and direction that it almost takes our minds away from the pitch-perfect performances here given by the amazing ensemble.