Magnolia (1999)

by sfe medusa

(dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

A tale ultimately about humans, beautifully crafted in the best interlinked story structure I have seen to date. An extensive, stellar cast, yet intimacy is maintained in a story that explores forgiveness, trauma and vulnerability.

Dizzying panning shots that ease into intense static shots over the course of the film correlate with the transition from the characters’ incoherent attempts to convey what’s on their minds to a stable (albeit painful) exploration of their stored up problems.

I’m a bit critical of the Aimee Mann soundtrack, especially in the emotional scene that ends up feeling like a bad music video, and a bit of a joke. However, the cheap pop music is balanced out by other intense, well chosen scores, and finely tuned audio layering throughout that profoundly accentuates dialogue and instrumentals at crucial points.

The story is so plausible and the characters so well developed that we are reminded that the film is fictional only due to Anderson’s surreal, symbolic motifs, and the over-the-top coincidences that occur, pointed out and justified by the narrator. If you adore the subtly weird and the wonderful, you’ll adore this film; it sits in a niche of its own, perfectly formulated and somehow transcendent of other films of the same genre – there is a sort of post-modern feel to it.
It is a lesson that control over the random unpredictability of life is not entirely necessary, and of the importance of human connection.
Top marks for another insightful, moving and honest picture from Paul Thomas Anderson.