Magnolia ★★★★★

A character saga in the vein of Robert Altman’s ensemble work (even, like Altman’s "Short Cuts", being set in Los Angeles) - Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia is an ambitious studio picture; somber and melodramatic. With a restless camera brushing back and forth between multiple characters, Anderson is okay with keeping a melancholic humor throughout - a storm approaching, and one of an entirely baffling type. Alternating between a film about the mental abuse of the child and the importance of parental commitment, the film is also apt at being about regret. About people who have all done something they've only come to realize they regret when death is looking them right in the face. Meanwhile, those who are still living their youthful lives aren't entirely in the process of realizing what they're doing that will eventually cause such regret. Again, it's melodramatic, but the ensemble is committed, and Anderson's style is so overt that the film rushes through its three hours, leaves us with questions still lingering, and has us questioning that, even if its all in a movie and some of its realistic, who's to say it can't really happen. Underneath it all, we'll always have regret for our actions, and a longing fear for the uncertainty of any kind of purpose.