Magnolia (1999)

R   |    |  Drama


Magnolia (1999) Poster

An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.


8/10
287,118


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  • Tom Cruise and Jason Robards in Magnolia (1999)
  • Magnolia (1999)
  • Philip Baker Hall and Eileen Ryan in Magnolia (1999)
  • Julianne Moore at an event for Magnolia (1999)
  • Magnolia (1999)
  • Tom Cruise in Magnolia (1999)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


29 March 2003 | joey_zaza
9
| A positive, joyful film
A rich slice of modern life presented wonderfully by Paul Thomas Anderson. Nine or so "broken" people are followed through the film, each of them at least vaguely interconnected to the others. We are shown where they are currently at in life, and find out what has happened to have brought them there. By the end of the film, they are finally at a point where they can confront what is making them so unhappy and perhaps take control of their lives and look forward to a brighter future (even if their time is limited).

Some people have complained about the ending of the film, perhaps hoping for everything to be neatly tied up, or at least for something less absurd than we get. In my opinion, however, it is perfectly apt for things to end as they do. We dip into these characters' lives in the present, learn about their past, and leave with optimism for their future. I would have found a cinematic "group hug" to be overly sentimental and highly unnecessary. For that alone, the director must be applauded for exercising some restraint. It would have been far too easy to extend the story a bit further and portray the characters as now being "mended", but this is not how real life is and would not have rung true with the film's overall tone of "this is just something that happens".

The sheer ambition of the director is also welcomed. It looks like pre-millennial tension sparked off a mini-renaissance in Hollywood, with this film and others such as "Fight Club" and "American Beauty" harking back to the period in the 70s when there was no distinction between "mainstream" and "arthouse". A-list actors and directors were not afraid to take a few risks and box-office gross was not the only factor used to denote a film's success or failure. It remains to be seen whether the current revival is just a blip. Let's hope not.

As for Mr. Cruise, although this may be his best performance to date, at times he looked a bit out of his depth. At the bedside scene, for example, the clenched fist, intense gaze and facial grimace instantly shattered my suspension of disbelief. This trademark Cruise gesture (as much so as Bruce Willis' smirk) crossed the line between character and actor, turning "Frank TJ Mackey" back into "Tom Cruise - Movie Star". For most of the film his performance was convincing, but when the role required some real emotion or loss of control, his limited acting range was exposed. I don't think he'll ever be able to achieve the credibility he'd like, but a good start would be to take on more such challenging roles, with the proviso that they are not obvious vanity projects or oscar-vehicles.

To sum up, I found this film warm and sincere, not pretentious as some have suggested. As for the frogs? Well, don't strain yourself looking for some deep, hidden metaphor, just take it at face value and enjoy the pure spectacle that you get from the sheer number and size of the frogs. It's a visually stunning sequence, up there with other truly classic moments in cinema.

From reading some of the comments presented here, it seems a shame that many people can't get past the swearing, drugs, running time or "arthouse cinema" tag. To really enjoy this film, you probably need to watch it without any such prejudices, and to leave your cynicism at the door. Don't be afraid of not "getting it", take it as you find it. Just sit back, let it envelop you and you'll be rewarded.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 1998 the television series entitled Homicide: Life on the Streets, featured a story of a young man, attempting to commit suicide by jumping off of a tall building only to be shot during his plunge to the ground by his elderly, squabbling parents. The parents are played by Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows, his wife in real life. The scene is written with a campy, dark humor undertone.


Quotes

Narrator: In the New York Herald, November 26, year 1911, there is an account of the hanging of three men. They died for the murder of Sir Edmund William Godfrey; Husband, Father, Pharmacist and all around gentle-man resident of: Greenberry Hill, London. He ...


Goofs

As Jim Kurring is driving in his patrol car, it is raining heavily, but as he makes his U-turn, the road is not only dry, but there is no rain.


Crazy Credits

As the credit for Robert Downey Sr. scrolls up the screen, the words "(a prince)" appear next to his name.


Alternate Versions

After watching the documentary "That Moment" on the supplementary DVD, you can see a deleted scene. The scene involves Orlando Jones' character 'The Worm,' his son (who appears in Officer Jim and Linda's scenes), and an unidentified boy. In it, the young rapping boy, Dixon, rushes into a restaurant where his father is staying, and eventually pulls a gun on him. The gun appears to be Jim's lost gun. Perhaps the scene would have further explained how it was so mysteriously returned to Jim in the end of the film. In the documentary, the director seems to be having a tough time with the scene, perhaps explaining why it was cut.


Soundtracks

Also Sprach Zarathustra
Written by
Richard Strauss
Performed by Herbert von Karajan & Wiener Philharmoniker (as The Vienna Philharmonic)
Courtesy of Decca Records Company Limited

Details

Release Date:

7 January 2000

Language

English, German, French


Country of Origin

USA

Filming Locations

California, USA

Box Office

Budget:

$37,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$193,604 19 December 1999

Gross USA:

$22,455,976

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$48,451,803

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