October 26, 2013
Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999). There are dying fathers who betrayed their families, paying with cancer. There are selfless caregivers, estranged adult children, child geniuses – one former and one present – there is endless emotional pain and there is unpredictable, expressive weather. Some characters are better conceived than others, and initially you wonder whether Anderson – just 28 when he made this – had more ambition and skill at this point than experience, and whether this shows, and whether the acting is too obviously acting, but there is an alert wisdom and sensitivity than wins you over. You also wonder how personal this is, what parts of which characters are parts of Anderson, in these tense relationship dynamics (see also: The Master, There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights).