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Review: Magnolia

Posted June 7, 2011 by Max in Review


Nine people will have their lives changed in the course of twenty-four hours that they will never forget. This is what Magnolia promises on the back of its box and boy does it deliver. From redemption and denial, to fear and regret, Magnolia draws powerful performances from its actors and is it ever chock full of revelation.

The performances are key to the success of Magnolia and it all begins with Tom Cruise. Easily the most memorable turn in his career Cruise lights up the camera, angry at the world and ready to agree all. In an eerily frightening turn Cruise’s Mackey suddenly beings to accept the feelings he’s buried for so long. There are many other wonderful turns including the cruel, miserable game shot host, Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall), who doesn’t understand why people want to avoid him after all the pain he’s brought.

Everything in Magnolia is tied together in a finely crafted knot. Paul Thomas Anderson knows exactly when he wants to show character relationships. He also has a keen affinity for Exodus 8:2, which is referenced countless times throughout the picture.

Two-thirds into Magnolia, It would seem that things couldn’t get much worse and the rain just won’t stop. At every turn the characters’ hopes and dreams are destroyed. When there seems like there might be a clearing, all hell breaks loose. I would liken it to walls being brought down and barriers broken. The characters become responsible for their actions good or bad and how they choose to face these actions will define them forever.

Paul Thomas Anderson certainly picked excellent music. Years before I had even seen Magnolia, I have enjoyed the fine soundtrack by Aimee Mann. The only regret I have is no being able to match the music with the film until now. Not only is the soundtrack wonderfully constructed, but it is vital to Magnolia. P.T. Anderson peppers Magnolia with Mann’s music and the characters even start singing along voicing their regrets in a key scene.

Magnolia is a difficult film to discuss. Much of the picture has to be experienced and not read. On paper, this is the story of nine people, their fears, regrets, and remorse. It’s terribly depressing to think of Magnolia in that fashion. Somewhere deep in Magnolia there is redemption to be had and its worth taking the journey to find it.


Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly

About the Author


Chief Editor of Impassionedcinema. A film enthusiast who studies and creates his own films. Criticizing movies is his favorite pass-time.