Magnolia (1999)

Rating: 6/10


My one criticism of this movie is that it felt like nothing was explained in detail, and because there were so many stories, you weren't as invested as you would be had the creators narrowed it down. It isn't that the story was confusing or hard to follow, but you had to pay such close attention to grasp basic ideas like the relationships between every character. If I hadn't noticed the credits on the television set, for example, I would have missed altogether that Earl Partridge was the producer for What Do Kids Know? and not known at all what he was doing in the movie. I understand that if they had gone into detail the movie would have been fucking 5 hours long, but there's an easy remedy for that: have less characters. Because there were so many fucking stories, it's like you got glimpses of each one instead of a complete picture, and as a result didn't gather enough info about any of the characters to feel anything for them. William H. Macy as the Quiz Kid Donnie, for example, could have been cut. While it was an interesting sub-plot, it wasn't really doing anything except taking time away from the other characters. 

Besides that, I thought this was an fascinating and thought provoking movie. It took a while to get into, but once a steady cycle of going through the perspectives of each character was established, the story got really interesting. I loved watching how each person's facade fueled their relationships with others; the cop, for example, had this front of being an upstanding cop and the best he could be, but when it came to actually dealing with people, he was kind of a dick because of the way he looked at himself. 

My favorite sub-plot was the one with Stanley, the child genius who supposedly got tons of attention from everyone, but when it boiled down to actually listening to him, there was no one there. His father was only concerned with making money from his son's talents, and even though he got press all the time, the school just sort of left him alone and treated him like a freak. He was the only character in the movie who I actually felt for because he didn't deserve any of the shit that people threw on him. Kids have to use the bathroom, for fuck's sake. It happens. Even the other kids, who you'd think would sympathize, stepped all over him. I was so fucking glad when he finally summed up the feelings of all the characters in the film and said, "Dad, you have to start being nice to me." Ain't that the truth. That was one of the defining moments of the film, and made me appreciate the other sub-plot (though I still think it could have been cut) of William H. Macy more because I was seeing through Stanley what Donnie had gone through. 

I think that if the creators had made this film more concise, it would have been a lot better. You wouldn't have had to pay attention to one line said by Stanley in haste in order to understand the purpose of the frogs, and more attention would be focused on less characters, thus making each one more important in the overall story. However, it is what it is, and I can't change that. I can, however, appreciate the fact that every single person, whether we want to believe it or not, is hiding something, and sooner or later it will be exposed (although the fact that his father left did not make me like Tom Cruise's character more- I still thought he was a dick). This movie did a wonderful job of connecting several characters whom you wouldn't think would be connected in any way, and doing it smoothly and interestingly, and I'll give it credit for that. 


The Movie Mistress


  1. While I liked this movie more than you, I totally agree when you say it should have been more concise. William H. Macy's storyline should have been cut, and we could have spent our time getting to know the other characters more intimately. Excellent review.

  2. Wow, I'm starting to think that I'm the only person who liked Macy's storyline. He reminded me of so many pseudo-celebrity burnouts we see these days who went too far too fast and now don't know what to do with themselves.

    It bummed me out each and every time he said "I have a lot of love to give"...haven't we all met someone like that?