Magnolia (1999)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Ensemble Film, Urban Drama, Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 17, 1999 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 188 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

Even more audacious than his 1997 breakthrough Boogie Nights, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia explores nothing less than the uncertainties of life and the vicissitudes of love. Reuniting most of the cast members from Boogie Nights, with the notable additions of Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, and Melinda Dillon, Anderson pays homage to Robert Altman's multicharacter mosaics, delving into the minutiae of fate, coincidence, and the human condition through the chance intersections of ten major characters in one Southern California day. Along with his assured wide-screen compositions and camera movements, Anderson further reveals the cosmic connections between these damaged lives with a boldly poignant Aimee Mann "sing-along" and an appropriately Biblical finale. Though some critics sniffed that it was self-important pap, most were impressed enough by Anderson's intimately epic reach to forgive Magnolia's few flaws, while Cruise's flamboyant turn as sexual guru Frank T. J. Mackey earned the star a Golden Globe award and Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Though Cruise's presence was not enough to turn the three hour character study into a blockbuster hit, Magnolia confirmed that Boogie Nights was no artistic fluke, with Anderson once again garnering an Oscar nomination for his intricate screenplay.