Magnolia, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Magnolia is one of the best films produced over the last twenty years, one of the few masterpieces written and directed by the phenomenal Paul Thomas Anderson, other outstanding films signed by the same author include: There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights.
The cast of Magnolia is a Dream Team, with Tom Cruise winning the Golden Globe for his role as Frank T.J. Mackey, an obnoxious, misogynistic celebrity and guru, Jason Robards as Earl Partridge – the dying father of the male chauvinist – Julianne Moore as Linda Partridge, his wife, Philip Seymour Hoffman playing Nurse Phil Parma and many other sensational actors.
As Earl Partridge is dying, he makes an attempt to come to terms, find closure, speaks about his abandoning a dying wife, who would be cares for by his son, who has chosen the name Frank Mackey and does not want to talk to his loathsome father, up to the point where he is contacted by nurse Phil Parma.
Meanwhile, Linda Partridge admits in front of her lawyer that she had married her suffering spouse out of interest, but paradoxically, she has started to love him as he got sick, she is so repentant now that she wants to change the will and forfeit all the inheritance, trying to commit suicide when unable to cope with the guilt, the stress and some rather villainous pharmacists who mistreat her when she comes with a long list of strong painkillers.
John C. Reilly plays Jim Kurring, the honest, if somewhat awkward and perhaps simple police officer, called for a disturbance first, wherein he discovers the body of a murdered man, then he meets Claudia Gator, a drug addict who sleeps with everyone she encounters in bars, listens to very loud music, hence the call to the police and the visit.
The two might find solace from each other, given that the woman is in a very sorry state, thinking she had been abused by her father, game show host Jimmy Gator, who is visiting his daughter to announce that he has terminal cancer, only to be insulted and thrown out the door.
William H. Macy used to be Quiz Kid Donnie Smith, a child with a brilliant mind, up to the point where he was hit by lighting, event after which he became normal, if not rather slow, trying to make a living, get braces for he is in love with a male bar tender and planning a theft that would get him out of financial dire straits, just before a rain with…frogs.
Frank Mackey is a bestselling author, speaker and mentor for men who are insecure, rejected by women and who find false answers from a violent, abusive, arrogant talker whose secrets include “pretend you care, get that cunt” and other ever more foul language which purports to make men able to seduce and destroy females in a macho universe.
He is interviewed by a cerebral, restrained, intelligent woman who has made research for her program and discovered that the chauvinist man is lying about most if not all aspects of his life, his dead mother, his enrollment at university which turns out to be a tolerated participation at some courses and more.
All the characters in this motion picture are complex, there is no absolute knight in shining armor or a perfect bad witch, even the despicable, abhorrent Frank Mackey, with his outrageous perspective on women has some excruciating pain in his past that, if it does not in the least absolve him of his guilt, at least it does explain why he is the vile man that he has become.
Stanley Spector is another Wonder Quiz Kid that is capable to give answers to any question, indeed, not just that, but render it in the language required and even sing it, as in the case where Jimmy Gator asks in English about the lyrics for Carmen and the amazing boy is able to reply in French and sing the aria with remarkable talent.
Nevertheless, this character is there to attract attention to one of the issues at the heart of this epic, magnificent film, in particular the problem of child mistreatment in a different manner than it is commonly known, in game shows or other activities that take such a heavy toll.
Stanley wants to use the bathroom and he is denied because they are on the air or very soon to be live, he abandons the show, not bodily, but spiritually, then realizes that he does not have to obey, take all this bad treatment, get up in front when he does not want to.
Although most, if not all characters face very difficult, painful situations- indeed, one of them is soon to expire in formidable pain – there is hope, some would find redemption, the most likely personage to experience a transformation is Frank Mackey, who comes to the deathbed of his parent, after initially rejecting the idea completely.
Even as he comes to the house, he does show the face we are familiar with by now, threatening to drop kick one or all of the four dogs in attendance, then calls the dying man a sob and other words, reproaching his desertion when his son was so young and the wife would die in terrible torment.
But as it starts raining frogs – not cats and dogs- the departing Earl wakes up to see his prodigal son next to him, presumably leaving this world comforted, then the previous vicious misogynist goes to the hospital to see Linda.
There is a way out for Donnie Smith- saved as he may be by Jim Kurring – although he would need new teeth, not braces now, perhaps Claudia would find the support she needs from the same police officer, if in private, not official matters and father Jimmy might live for some years, given that a frog interferes with his macabre plans.
Magnolia is a film to watch, a worthwhile mediation on coincidence, miracles, loving, addiction, abuse, family values and so much more.