Faethor Ferenczy’s review published on Letterboxd:
Well well .... what a masterpiece of work we have here in Paul Thomas Andersons Magnolia. Featuring a strong cast of Tom Cruise, William H Macy, Julianne Moore, John C Reilly, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and many other known names, this was a wonderful journey through intertwining tales around the theme of forgiveness - although a true analysis (which I won't be doing here as you could literally write pages and pages) would bring out so much more.
Very roughly, this is what the main part of the story deals with (this may take a while)... Earl Partridge is a TV Producer who is dying. His much younger wife married him for his money however now that he's dying realises that she does actually love him and no longer wants his money. His estranged son, who he deserted many years ago when his ex wife was dying, is some kind of misogynistic sex guru. Earl Partridge tells his nurse to find his son as he wants to see him before he dies.
Meanwhile... Earls production company produces a TV quiz show where brainy kids take on adults, and is hosted by Jimmy Gator - who happens to have a terminal illness. One of the kids, the star of the show, is having a pretty miserable childhood due to his dad just basically using him and his child star status to earn himself a tidy living.
Meanwhile... Jimmy Gators daughter has turned out a neurotic, promiscuous, and drug taking mess and is estranged from her father. Jimmy, knowing he doesn't have long left, goes to see his daughter to patch things up and tell her he's dying but she doesn't want to know and becomes downright hysterical.
Meanwhile... Donnie Smith is a former child star of the aforementioned TV Show. Now an adult, skint, and a bit of a loser, he wallows in self pity - his parents having took all the money he won as a child.
Meanwhile... and finally... A religious, straight up, honest, and unpopular cop has his own, initially unconnected, story that ends up becoming intertwined with both Jimmys daughters story, and Donnie Smiths story.
Phew... and don' t worry, I haven't really given anything away above as all these things become pretty clear early on and pretty much set the scene.
This was an absolute joy to watch, and was a perfect example of masterful storytelling at it's best. The craftsmanship that went into this film - the acting, the direction, the production, the score - is simply phenomenal. The film is pretty much an exploration of the concept of forgiveness and at times is deeply touching without (in my opinion) becoming overly pretentious or smug. At 3 hours long, the film covers a time period of only 24 hours and despite the fact there's not an awful lot going on in terms of traditional action, there's an awful lot going on in terms of emotion. The whole 3 hours had me glued to the screen!
The film opens with a narration explaining various bizarre and tragic coincidences that have happened. This initially appears to be a bit random and have no place in the story however it prepares the viewer for the final section of the film. There's actually a whole lot going on in the film such as the various themes and interpretations, and smaller things such as scatterings of biblical references which all tie up at the end. A lot of these things are missed upon the first viewing (or at least they were for me) but what the film did for me is really make me want to read about it after it had finished. And after reading about it, and various peoples analysis of it, I wanted nothing more than to sit down and watch the whole 3 hours again - and if that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is.
All in all, an emotional epic and a masterpiece. 9/10