Ossus Library Index Drama Movie Index

MAGNOLIA

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (1999, New Line Cinemas)
Starring Tom Cruise, Neil Flynn, and William H. Macy

A group of people suffer through sad lives, trying to make the best of it. Their lives intersect in a bizarre manner.

 

 

3 stars

January 25th, 2000 in the Theatre

 
   

I had a very difficult time rating this movie.  I loved the drama.  It was all very interesting.  But at three hours, it was about an hour too long.  They could have easily removed that struggling hour, without losing much.  The ending also brought the movie down.  Maybe I just didn't understand it.  In fact, I'm sure I didn't understand it.  I was just expecting more.  A true intersection, rather then what we got.

Like I mentioned, I loved the drama.  The stories of the game show host, the kid who is on the game show, the adult who was on the show as a kid, the daughter of the game show host, and her new boyfriend, the cop.  The man who created the production company that runs the game show, and his nurse, and his young wife, and his estranged son, the creator of Seduce and Destroy, a way for men to get women.  I believe that's all the stories.  And they were all very interesting, and very powerful. 

I think I could have done without the adult who was a whiz kid on the game show years ago.  He did add depth to the story of the kid who is on the show now, but, I think both could probably have gone without sacrificing any of the story.  Just two less tragic creatures. 

Apparently, Tom Cruise was great, the best performance of his career.  I don't know about that.  He was good, but nothing outstanding.  Some of his father's scenes were long, too.  But they did make me care.  The old man's wife is going crazy because he is dying.  She is just beginning to realize that she loves him. 

The game show host is dying too, but slowly.  It's not quite clear whether he succeeded in suicide at the end, since the frog bumped his gun.  His daughter, however, was tragic from beginning to end.  Addicted to cocaine, she is unable to deal with someone who thinks she is great.  She can't cope with someone actually loving her.  The police officer is there to save her.  He isn't perfect, far from it, but he is persistent.  That was the story I liked best. 

It is obvious that everybody in the movie needed somebody to save them.  They were in need of forgiveness.  Somebody had to give it to them.  Some were successful, others were less so.  But I think everyone came out of it for the better.  I think that's what the end, the bizarre climax, was trying to tell us. 

But I was expecting more of an intersection of their lives, like we seemed to be promised at the beginning.  Their lives were related, mainly through the game show, but more from the tragedy and sense of guilt.  I wanted their lives to be actually intertwined physically in some way.  That's what the narration at the beginning leads us into believing. 

Having said that, the soundtrack was incredible.  Without it, the drama would not have been nearly as powerful.  Every bit of it was appropriate to the scenes they were played in, even to the point that it drowned out what a lot of people were saying.  The point of that was, I believe, to depict real life, where we go off into a daze and can't hear people anyway.  It happens all the time. 

That is what the movie promises, that it happens all the time.  Coincidence.  But I couldn't see the coincidence.  Individually, I thought the stories were great.  Altogether, I think it needed more convergence.

Incidentally, I thought the cutting from one storyline to the next would have been annoying, but it was done masterfully, so that not only was it appropriate, it sometimes felt like it needed to do it that way.

 
   

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