Magnolia ★★★★★

The book says, we might be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.

Operatic in ambition, audacious in execution, and simply a film that transcends it's medium, Magnolia is Paul Thomas Anderson's best film. It grapples with several ideas that many film makers wouldn't dare address, but Anderson seems to revel in the challenge itself. In probably the most emotionally draining three hours of my life, Anderson's tale of melancholy and regret had me crying and laughing on a whim.

Magnolia is a film of hurt and love, dreams and dreams lost, children destroyed and adults destroying themselves. You could say the central idea at work here is the lasting effects of children hurt. This is most prevalent in the story of a boy genius and boy genius whose time has passed. One is being molded into something he is not, one cannot reconcile his past success with his present mediocrity. There's a tale of a towering patriarch reconnecting with his son, who because of childhood abuse has built up an entire persona to reject his adolescent vulnerability. It's both a fleeting attempt to shield one's self against a resurgence of the past, but also a sad vision of how strong a grasp the past has on all of us.

I think Magnolia is a film portraying the interconnectedness of our lives, constructed around a bulky yet cohesive, almost inexcusably messy narrative depicting the sorrow and loneliness existent in modern life. It's a film about the alienation of loved ones, the omnipresence of sin, and the need for forgiveness. Not for spirituality or salvation, but for personal reconciliation. In addition to these assertions, the film asks profound questions regarding the desire for meaning in the coincidences that surround us in our existence on a grand scale. What the film ultimately settles on is that strange things happen, asserting that coincidence is not what we perceive it to be, but rather some sort of connecting element in the human experience, rendering the film not only a philosophical musing on happenstance, but a fearless assertion by Paul Thomas Anderson that is all to rare in modern film.

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