Magnolia ★★★★★


Even with it being my favorite film of all time, I don't know if I can ever properly review Magnolia. This is my fourth viewing of it, yet I'm still at a loss for words. There's no possible way I could condense my love for it down to four or five simple paragraphs, as the coherence of my writing would be on par with that of a page out of Finnegans Wake, and it would be just as long as the book itself. In short, I'm too overwhelmed with passion each time I finish it to write a detailed explanation of why I adore it, but I can say with complete confidence that Magnolia is the finest work of art I have beared witness to, and will probably never be bettered for as long as I am able to keep indulging in cinema.

Keeping in mind the difficulty I have with formulating a concrete review of this grand masterpiece, what can I bring to the Letterboxd table with this viewing of Magnolia? After all, I did watch this on my nineteenth birthday, so it better be something special. Well, I do have something: I watched this with my younger brother, who was watching it for the first time. It was an obligation on his part seeing that his birthday gift to me was an autographed picture of Paul Thomas Anderson, the god among men who crafted this very piece of cinematic brilliance. Based on how thoughtfully awesome that gift was, he deserved to be exposed to the main reason why I love the man the way I do.

For most of the film my brother was completely quiet and still, immersed in the mosaic that the film displayed. He would sometimes ask valid questions of clarification, to which I gladly answered to keep him up to speed. But that scene was approaching. You know the one. It's the climax that people resort to as a deus ex machina, a plot contrivance, a cop-out, whatever -- but it's actually perfect in the overall structure to Magnolia's web of interconnectedness. I do recognize how someone can be turned off by it, however, so I prepared myself for my brother to react with vitriol once it began. And, to my slight disappointment, he did, even threatening to walk out of the film without seeing the end. But I convinced him to stay, and we watched what was left after the sequence ended. Once the credits started to roll, he berated the film for supposedly ruining such a great momentum of drama and emotion with an out-of-place turn of events. I chose to let his opinion be, reminding myself that he at least watched his older brother's most cherished film and got a sense of what I look for in movies.

It wasn't until about ten minutes later, when he was sitting in front of the television watching a basketball game, that my brother told me that his feelings towards Magnolia started to change. With the help of my offered explanations of the allegories and allusions that were scattered throughout the film, he soon changed his tune and we talked about how masterful the film was for what seemed like an hour. Combined with his giving of Paul's autographed photo, this was a moment of true brotherly bonding, and it was a perfect end to the latest anniversary of my birth.

Watching Magnolia once again, I am reminded of the capacity we all have as people: to care, to loathe, to hurt, to mend, and to love. I am also reminded of how capable we are of creating a work of art that can convey all of these things and balance them out evenly and beautifully. But for the first time with this film, thanks to my brother giving that wonderful gift to me, I am reminded of how one's passion for art can bring out the best from those around them through the means of mutual appreciation that can develop into something fruitful. To sum it up, Magnolia has reminded me why life is great, and that I am thankful for being able to experience it for nineteen years thus far.

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