Synopsis by Mark Deming
Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson followed his critical and commercial breakthrough Boogie Nights with this wildly ambitious story of lives intertwining on a single day in California's San Fernando Valley. Earl Partridge (Jason Robards), a successful producer of television game shows, left his wife when she contracted cancer to marry the younger and more beautiful Linda (Julianne Moore). Now, Earl has cancer himself, and Linda spends her day fetching medicines and trying to deal with the imminent death of her husband, whom she has only now come to love. Earl asks his nurse Phil (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to arrange a meeting with his estranged son, Frank Mackey (Tom Cruise), known for his self-help program "Seduce and Destroy," in which he preaches the importance of male sexual prowess; he cared for his mother after Earl left her, and he has no desire to see his father again. Earl's best-known show is hosted by Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall), who also learns that he is dying. Jimmy's show pits bright adults against unusually smart kids; one of Jimmy's child contestants, Stanley (Jeremy Blackman), arrives late for a taping after being left stranded by his father Rick (Michael Bowen), who is supported by his more successful son. Meanwhile, Donnie Smith (William H. Macy), who was a champ on Jimmy's show as a child, is not having as much luck as an adult; he's just lost his job and needs to pay for some expensive dental work. Jimmy wants to reconcile with his estranged and emotionally fragile daughter Claudia (Melora Walters), who despises him and who will become involved with well-meaning police officer Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly), who has been desperately lonely since his divorce three years ago. Magnolia reunites much of the cast and crew of Boogie Nights and features eight original songs by singer/songwriter Aimee Mann and a musical score by Jon Brion.
alienation, cancer, crisis, estrangement, fate, game-show, love, parent/child-relationship, relationship, responsibility
High Artistic Quality, High Production Values