Film Review of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia

If what meets the eye is believable, and is believed, can it be a coincidence that what doesn’t meet the eye has had bad luck? It seems the objective here – of human actions and of human behavior – is that everything is a sneaky coincidence. Because if it isn’t, and if it were up to fate, the lives we would create would be empty and emptier still right to the end.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia tackles the mightiest force of existence – and that is chance. The film has everything. The suppressed emotions, dying wish, waking desires, yearning, loneliness, and melancholia. It works together in one swift and heady motion to reimagine separate lives not by their staggering tragedies or incomplete-ness but by their harmonic and sincere and self-same peculiarities.

This somehow reminds me of something I heard in Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice, “We wait for something. We hope, we lose hope, we move closer to death. Finally, we die.” And that it’s all the same. We all hope. We all have missed chances. But we’re all rowing the boat the same on different currents of life. When you’re confronted with such extremes, the path of least resistance is the path of letting go.

Magnolia is an instinctual and emotive film. It evokes feelings of continued wonder of what’s about to happen next in each story. The aliveness of his characters enables you to discover your own identity in each of them. So that, at the end, when you breathe in the clarity and transparency of life and its many absurdities, you’re not just another “spoke in the wheel.”

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