Thursday, August 2, 2012

Capsule Review: Magnolia (1999)

While Paul Thomas Anderson's debt to Robert Altman - who he later worked with extensively before his death - had been on display in Hard Eight and (particularly) Boogie Nights, it was 1999's Magnolia where Altman's influence really came to the forefront. Telling a sprawling tale of the interweaving connections between a dozen or so characters over a 24 hour period, the film explores themes of chance, fate, love, death, and forgiveness among people of wildly disparate backgrounds. Featuring one of the most impressive ensemble casts in recent memory - including Jason Robards in his emotional final performance - the film occasionally threatens to collapse under its emotional weight ( particularly during two memorably surreal sequences) but Anderson deftly keeps the ship upright over the lengthy three hour running time. It's uneven, and occasionally frustrating, but it's a massive accomplishment, and one with near limitless pleasures to unlock.

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

Good review Doug. An amazing flick that captures the beauty and the pain of life, in perfect, PT Anderson-fashion. He does get a bit too preachy by the end but I was able to forget about that after watching this just by how spell-blinded I truly was.