This past weekend I finally had the pleasure to sit down and watch in full, Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic film Magnolia. In the past I had caught just a few minutes of the film on television, but never sat down and watched it in its full 3 hour and 20 minute run-time. I have always been a mega-fan of Paul Thomas Anderson ever since I saw There Will Be Blood in High School and was blown away by the epic story that was told. Magnolia is similar to other PTA films in that it examines a single issue through a very broad and wide scope. The film examines the ideas of chance, fate and what the past can mean for our future. However the film takes an unconventional approach as to how it examines these ideas, through the lives of incredibly interesting and complex characters and their own personal struggles. There is the dying TV host, his cocaine addicted daughter, a failing cop, a hospice nurse and his dying client, a womanizing self-motivator, a suicidal wife, a failed child genius and an up and coming child genius. Every single one of these characters suffers from their own complex problem and throughout the movie their issues become more and more interwoven with another characters.
This film was immense in the themes and messages that it tries to drive home, but I believe it succeeds best at the message that our parents are responsible greatly for how their children end up. The best examples of this were through Tom Cruise’s character’s father abandoning him when his mother died of cancer leading to his womanizing future self and how the TV host molested his daughter which has led her to be a cocaine addict. The film was most certainly an epic and needs a second viewing in order to fully grasp all the complex themes it has to offer.