The 50 Greatest Dramas: #46: Magnolia (1999)

Julianne Moore in Magnolia

Tom Cruise actually gives a credible (and wonderfully deranged) performance in this assured third feature from Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson. Also starring a fabulous ensemble that includes Julianne Moore and John C Reilly

Covering 24 hours in the lives of what seems at the outset an impossibly large cast of characters, Magnolia may have video viewers reaching for the pause button in the dizzying opening scenes and making copious notes to keep track. However, as the film progresses the remarkable assurance that won Paul Thomas Anderson such acclaim in Boogie Nights comes to the fore.

Story hands baton on to story seamlessly, interweaving the lives of the disparate characters that include Tom Cruise as a misogynistic sex-guru, William H Macy as a washed-up quiz-show star and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the aspiring male nurse who wants to look after everyone.

With Anderson borrowing freely from fellow auteurs Altman, Scorsese and Demme, Magnolia’s finest achievement is the sheer ambition running through every vein. Anderson pulls off the ultimate coup de grace to leave viewers wondering about their own lives, mistakes and fates long after the final credits have rolled.


Boogie Nights is remarkable but is Magnolia Anderson’s first masterpiece?

One Response to “The 50 Greatest Dramas: #46: Magnolia (1999)”

  1. Grey's Anatomy Says:

    Good stuff, I “Stumbled” you. My DIGG account got messed up but I like Stumbling better anyway.

Leave a Reply

Login     Film Journal Home     Support Forums           Journal Rating: 4/5 (2)