Movie Review – Magnolia

Posted: June 9, 2013 in Movie Reviews

Films like Magnolia just happen. I don’t think someone could sit, think and write a movie like Magnolia. Paul Thomas Anderson, whom I think is a prodigy, shows why he’s a genius. During his Boogie Nights (my most favorite film of his and also Tarantino’s) he started to write the script for Magnolia. Thanks to the long editing period. As he had named the movie before writing, just like the name the story started to blossom. Even the film if seen blossoms like a flower.


Some might find this concept of titling the film before story absurd. I don’t find it because I’m one such guy. I title my stories first. Write the climax and then start from the first. I find this style compelling. For some odd reasons I found this movie to be similar to Mulholland Drive. Though Magnolia didn’t crank me up like Mulholland Drive I did have this uneasy feeling throughout.

Magnolia is about a set of characters who are in search of happiness, forgiveness and people who feel guilty. You don’t see a single happy character throughout the film. May be the rapper kid, Dixon but he doesn’t come as a part of characters who feel sorry. Very rarely we see a musical which has so much effect on us.

The whole movie takes place like a symphony with a lot of thrilling moments but end up being just another day in life, seamless editing done by the editor. The tempo rises and the tension builds. The scenes go up the crest and come down the trough with camera all the while zooming in. The music in the background adds to it. The combined effect of these things gets us sucked to their life.

We have a lot of interlinked stories. One thing common to every one of them is guilt. It’s like a sad day taken out from their book. To start with the poster itself tells us the story. Each petal has an actor’s face in it joined together at the bottom by a feeling called guilt. If you still wonder why its titled Magnolia here’s the explanation from Wikipedia.

“He had the title of “Magnolia” in his head before he wrote the script. As he started writing, the script “kept blossoming” and he realized that there were many actors he wanted to write for and then decided to put “an epic spin on topics that don’t necessarily get the epic treatment”. He wanted to “make the epic, the all-time great San Fernando Valley movie”.Anderson started with lists of images, words and ideas that “start resolving themselves into sequences and shots and dialogue”, actors, and music. The first image he had for the film was the smiling face of actress Melora Walters. The next image that came to him was of Philip Baker Hall as her father. Anderson imagined Hall walking up the steps of Walters’ apartment and having an intense confrontation with her. Anderson also did research on the magnolia tree and discovered a concept that eating the tree’s bark helped cure cancer.”

As I said before films like Magnolia cannot be planned. The script has to blossom. Thanks to New Line Cinema who trusted P.T. Anderson so much and let him do this movie. How much the world would have missed if the movie has not been made.

There is a beautiful song where each character sing their heart out. The voice gets added one by one. The overlap done quite beautifully there.

P.T. Anderson has touched a very sensitive and delicate topic here. Guilt. It’s very uncommon to find a person who hasn’t had at least a day stricken by guilt. To come out of it is an emotional experience. Anderson here provides the feel of it. Quite beautifully.

I like everyone was shocked when frogs began to pour down. If you had keenly noticed it’s only the quiz kid who says, “It happens.” That’s what even I say. It happens.


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