Oh my love, Magnolia. This is the awesome, heartbreaking, creepy, beautiful, true and hilarious film from Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Punch-Drunk Love and Boogie Nights). The movie is about the intersecting lives of four people and their families in San Fernando Valley.
First you have Donnie (William H. Macy) a former quiz kid who is dealing with his lost childhood innocence. He’s fired from his job and struggling with his love for a local male bartender. Overall, an odd character but played by a great actor. We never really find out much about Donnie and what he’s dealing with. He definitely has resentment toward his parents for stealing his winnings after the quiz show. At the same time, the viewer meets Stanley a current quiz kid who is in the same situation Donnie once was. But Stanley actually stands up to everyone in the end.
Next you have Frank Mackey (Tom Cruise) a masochistic, woman-hater. He’s dealing with abandonment issues since childhood when his father left him with his dying mother. When the father Earl (Jason Robards) is on his deathbed the two reunite. At the same time, Earl’s wife Linda (Julianne Moore) is taking the looming death hard and is spiraling out of control. Earl’s nurse Phil (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is one of the few kind-hearted characters in this movie. He sympathizes and assists Earl in any way possible, and is the one who reunites Frank and Earl. He takes the death of his patient very hard.
One of the best, and most important, characters in the film is Jim (John C. Reilly) a middle-aged cop. Jim really is one of the most selfless and kind characters I’ve seen in a movie. There are a lot of religious elements in this film, and they especially surrounded Jim. I took Jim as a disciple, or shepherd of the Lord, because he always spoke about forgiveness, doing what’s right, selflessness, etc. and he had a cross above his bed. Also there’s the famous raining frogs scene! Jim meets a cokehead Claudia (Melora Walters) who has major family problems of her own.
It truly is impossible to sum up this movie in a blog post … it’s just so expansive with its storylines but because it is more than three hours long the viewer is able to really get to know the characters and it doesn’t seem overwhelming. The acting and storyline is what made this film. A film with a lofty goal can’t be done with just anyone. The actors are seasoned veterans who know just the right nuances to portray different people and their changing moods. There were small roles filled by actors like Luis Guzman, Alfred Molina, Philip Hall, Felicity Huffman and Cleo King. Also, the majority of the soundtrack is done by Aimee Mann, a fabulous singer, check it out.
Basically you just have to see for yourself all the awesomeness this movie can offer. I also liked how the movie had elements not like a typical movie, such as characters addressing the camera, weather forecasts across the screen and music overwhelming the characters’ dialogue.