8.03 h 8 min2000X-RayR
This sprawling character study follows 10 people whose damaged lives intersect--often by sheer coincidence--during a single day in Southern California's San Fernando Valley.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Tom CruiseJulianne MooreJason Robards
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
William H. MacyJohn C. ReillyPhilip Seymour HoffmanMelora WaltersPhilip Baker HallMelinda Dillon
Michael De LucaLynn HarrisJoanne SellarPaul Thomas Anderson
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Smokingsubstance usealcohol usenudityfoul languagesexual contentviolence
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4.5 out of 5 stars

2390 global ratings

  1. 76% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 10% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 8% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 4% of reviews have 1 stars
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Andrew EllingtonReviewed in the United States on September 9, 2011
4.0 out of 5 stars
And frogs fell from the heavens...
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Paul Thomas Anderson is a remarkable creative mind. That being said, `Magnolia' isn't as strong as it could have been. That isn't to say that the film doesn't have merit, because it is authentic and truly earnest; perhaps too much so. The one thing that kept springing to mind while watching this film was that it lacked balance. This is the last of Anderson's films for me to see, and so it's odd for me that this is one of his most raved (possibly his most raved) film to date. While the Academy embraced his latest (and greatest) masterpiece, `There Will Be Blood', there are many vocal detractors to that film, while little is said to degrade `Magnolia'; a film that is considered by many to be an intellectual masterpiece of modern cinema.

The film is good, but it is missing something.

Like I said, `Magnolia' lacks balance. It surprises me, because that is one thing I find so fascinating about Anderson's other work; they are so balanced. Even something as dark as `There Will Be Blood' is emotionally landscaped in way so that you can feel the ups and downs, the highs and lows with precise effect. Anderson maps out his scenes in such a way that you `get' them. `Boogie Nights' balanced tones so effortlessly; creating such robust feelings that ran the gamut of witty and charming to eerily aggressive; and it all flowed. Even a film as `uneven' as `Punch Drunk Love' felt remarkably well thought out (despite my lack of true passion for the film, I easily consider Anderson's direction exceptional). Going all the way back to his debut, `Hard Eight', it is notable the way that Anderson plays with darkness in a way that feels eerily accessible.

There are no swells in `Magnolia'. It is somewhat one-note. There is one emotion that permeates the entire film. It is depressing. One depressing scene after another depressing scene. I mean, the middle of the film felt like the end of the film because even the music was making me feel like the whole world was going to end and everyone was going to die that very moment and yet it still had over an hour and a half to go before the film ending. I have never felt so depressed watching a film in all my life; to the point where the conclusion truly brings no resolve or lifted spirits because it is too little too late.

The damage had already been done.

But, there is something about this film that speaks to me. As with all of Anderson's films, I feel that this is one to be seen again and again before it can be appreciated. I mentioned, in my review title, a sliver of the film's conclusion, and it is a moment that took me by complete surprise and helped me to appreciate it all the more. It felt right, despite being so off. It added a layer to this film that I wholly need to explore.

I just wish that the film had more shades to it.

That being said; the film is an acting goldmine. Philip Baker Hall and Jason Robards are phenomenal as the film's dying patriarchs, both of whom have debts to pay to their children. Julianne Moore is heartbreaking and completely sincere as the trophy wife with a plateful of regret. William H. Macy and Jeremy Blackman complement one another beautifully, playing the same role just decades apart. John C. Reilly is so tender and relatable as the insecure cop who catches a break with the wrong woman. But it is Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tom Cruise who really steal every scene. Their characters could be more different and yet they emote so deeply. Cruise is a firecracker, throwing charisma at everyone in his path and yet it is his emotional breakdown that feels the most real; considering that his entire persona is built upon a façade. It is Hoffman who grabbed me the most though. The way he uncovers us layers of true caring while watching over Cruise's dying father; its remarkable how much his eyes convey.

The film; an interwoven collage related stories, has its moments, and the actually concept is one that I find inspired. In fact, I kind of find this film utterly fascinating. Like many have said about most all Anderson's work; it is flawed and yet it is unforgettable.

Anderson has undeniably honed his skill as a director. His work on `There Will Be Blood' is almost untouchable (a directorial achievement that grows in my estimation every time I merely `think' of the film), and his promise is seen all over this film that is slightly `over-achieved'.

This is not his worst film (but `worst' is not really a word to be used with his films), but that isn't a consolation when, with a little more focus given to layering the emotions, this could have been a clear masterpiece.

And yet, maybe it is a masterpiece.
5 people found this helpful
ScrimshawReviewed in the United States on March 22, 2013
3.0 out of 5 stars
The Real Misery Movie
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Magnolia, a 1999 drama film written and directed by P.T. Anderson, is in Anderson's own words, "probably the best film I'll ever make", which is wrong, as that honor goes to There Will Be Blood, at least in my eyes. The film itself is similar to, and slightly better, than another film released just a year earlier called Happiness. It's also very similar, apparently, to a 1993 Robert Altman film called Short Cuts. It features an ensemble cast of well-known big name stars such as Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, and Alfred Molina, in a small supporting role. There are also relative unknowns such as Melora Walters, Phillip Baker Hall, and Jeremy Blackmon, in no less important roles. The vast majority of characters in this film are relatively unlikable, annoying, vulgar, and miserable people, many of whom have or are themselves bad fathers, cheating spouses, and incompetent workers. The film is three hours long and takes place in the San Fernando Valley of California, like all of P.T. Anderson's films. It follows all of the previously mentioned characters in search of love, happiness, forgiveness, and redemption. In addition to that all of the characters are connected, sometimes loosely, sometimes strongly, to eachother. William H. Macy plays former whiz kid Donnie Smith who was apparently struck by lightning and lost all of his "smarts", he was a contestant on a game show called "What Do Kids Know" and is now a miserable lonely man who seems lost and abandoned, in the beginning he gets fired from his job and it all goes downhill for him from there. Jeremy Blackmon plays Stanley Spector, a new "whiz-kid" on What Do Kids Know who has a sorry excuse for a father and seems to be heading down the same path as William H. Macy's character, he's also one of the most likable and sympathetic characters in the film along side John C. Reilly's character Officer Jim Kurring, who, believe it or not, is an LA Cop. His character felt far too naive and optimistic for a officer working in LA. Vermont or Alaska maybe, but definitely not in a place like Los Angeles could a cop be that innocent. However, for better or worse it's his character, and Jeremy's, that saves this film from a two star rating, so I guess he's not that bad. He has an odd romantic relationship with Claudia Gator, the daughter of What Do Kids Know host Jimmy Gator, who are played by Melora Walters and Phillip Baker Hall respectively. Claudia is a drug addict who hates her father and this is made clear in an intense early scene when he tells her he's dying from cancer. Tom Cruise plays Frank T.J. Mackey, a self help specialist who runs a seminar aimed at men that teaches them how to charm and seduce women into bed with them. In a different role from what he usually plays, Cruise as Frank is a vulgar, sleazy, and bitter man who seems to be running or hiding from something in his past, and Seduce and Destroy appears to a consequence of it. This is made clear in an interview with a woman that he agrees to during one of his seminars. Jason Robards plays his terminally ill father who spends the entire film in bed attended to by his kind male nurse played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Franks hates his father for cheating on, and later abandoning, his cancer-stricken wife who later died, and him, who was forced to take look after her by himself. Julianne Moore plays Jason Robard's character's second wife who only married him for his money and wants to change his will to leave all of his valuables to her after he dies, and she also cheats on him. She is probably the weakest character in the film, as her performance is marred by over-acting and clumsy dialogue. She also has a vendetta against Frank, claiming he's not part of their family. In addition to these loosely connected plot threads, there is the common theme of chance and coincidence, best illustrated at the beginning of the film in a darkly humorous monologue focusing on three incredible coincidences that supposedly really happened and in a scene towards the very end which I won't spoil for you. Many people claim that Magnolia is a pretentious film and that Anderson was deliberately trying to be as obscure or confusing as possible to make it seem like a deeper or more profound film than it actually was. I believe there's a bit of truth to that, but not to the extent that some people here think. It wasn't all that confusing to me, the thing that bothered me the most was the overuse of melodrama and miserable, pathetic characters interacting with other miserable, pathetic characters. It felt almost like a soap opera, and the vulgar language was also overdone, to the point of actually taking away from the effectiveness of several scenes, especially one towards the end involving Frank. Overall it was easy to sympathize with many of the characters but hard to like them, which was a big negative for me concerning the quality and effectiveness of the film. It has a huge cast and a long running time, but it still felt oddly incomplete when the credits started to roll. Overall it was an okay film, but not great or a masterpiece, and definitely not Paul Thomas Anderson's best film.
One person found this helpful
Erowley462Reviewed in the United States on September 24, 2022
3.0 out of 5 stars
Frogs… really?!
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Way too long for that ending.
Gemma KReviewed in the United States on August 31, 2022
3.0 out of 5 stars
Scattered story, with unconvincing personalities
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A disappointing movie. I did not care much about the people and I found the entire drama not very convincing.
C B DReviewed in the United States on April 12, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
The very smallest angel... EDIT: In re Pricing
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This was the first movie that I saw, on DVD, after my release from a 3-year stay at a mental hospital. I don't know that has anything to do with my love for the film or not. I go back and watch it occasionally, 14 years later, and still find that it's a gut-clincher for the mind, heart and soul.

Before... well, before misfortune overtook me... I was a twice a week film buff. When I was released, I tried to resume life as usual but just couldn't do it. I'm still sick, in some ways. I'm still sick. I have cartons of Blu-ray transfers on hand and have become almost addicted to trying to find all of my favorites up-to-date on Blu-ray.

One last thing before I go. This is THE deserted island film for me. I'm not sure why I waited so long to review it. I have never been a fan of Tom Cruise – never – but he'll make you realize that there's more to his acting than you thought possible as you pick yourself up from the floor for the third time.

It's unusual not to have a heart. Maybe even more difficult to not have a brain. If you lack both, I don't know what to tell you. Maybe you'll feel; like I did, and all of your emotions will come roaring down upon you when you see this film. If I felt that I could adequately describe the work that these people do, I would probably ruin the film for anyone who may want to see it alone. That's what makes the movie such a one-of-a-kind – a lack of continuity that never fails.

First PTA film that I every saw. Started watching all Anderson films after that. This is a one-off. As so may people have described it as the finest film that they've ever seen, I can "understand" that sentiment... seems as if it's true. Just open yourself up and belt yourself in (nice and tight) and it's off to the races. Hoffman is incredible (I can't think of a time that he wasn't ). Anderson? Anderson? Anderson?

I'm not one for top 10 lists, best lists, etc., I know what I'm willing to take chances upon, though.

EDIT: I wanted the Blu-ray version of this, and so I paid $28+ for the edition labeled Blu-ray. This "Multi-Format" stuff is new to me and I was too late in realising that I could have paid $9+ for the Blu-ray & Digital editions. Nothing extra or special about the $28+ version. Hey, I'm learning.
8 people found this helpful
Grey BuyerReviewed in the United States on January 24, 2011
5.0 out of 5 stars
A movie with so many messages
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I purchased the movie because the reviews were intriguing and the Blu-ray version was on sale at Amazon for less than $10. The used prices on the movie were as much or more than the new price so I figure if I hated it I could sell it and get my money back. I won't be selling it, ever.

I do not believe you can watch Magnolia once and understand what is happening. It becomes clearer on subsequent views because the movie plants very clear clues throughout but in a non-linear fashion. The metaphysical side of the movie is extremely subtle but always present. The spiritual transparency reminds me of an old quote "Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous." I thoroughly enjoyed the whispy nature of the metaphysical side of the film.

On the first viewing you'll probably connect with one or more of the story lines but may still be confused about the movie's point, especially by the ending.

On the second viewing you begin to understand better that Earl Partridge is the patriarch of all the interconnected stories. All the stories deal with Love in its many, many forms, and quite a few are presented in Magnolia. Besides connecting with one or more story lines you begin connecting with the expressions, reactions, and resolutions we all make about Love in our lives.

The third viewing is just fun to try to find all the references to Exodus 8:2, like a Where's Waldo on a moving screen. This exercise is actually more enjoyable to do with more than one person. My wife caught references I missed and visa versa. I seriously doubt we found them all after three viewings.

By the second or third viewing you'll begin to understand the major message of the movie, besides Love, is "you may be through with the past but the past ain't through with you." It is this point that will keep you thinking or talking about Magnolia long after the credits fade. My wife and I talked for hours, connecting circumstances in our resolved and unresolved pasts with the experiences of the characters in the film. We both said "how'd they put our lives in that movie?" It is this point that is key; as human beings we all have similar patterns in our lives and Magnolia brilliantly displays some of the most familiar.

If you have an analytical nature; if you enjoy thinking deeply about the messages of films, buy Magnolia. If you just want to be entertained, Magnolia ain't the flick for you.
13 people found this helpful
djohnsReviewed in the United States on July 6, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Works great
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Excellent product
Ann SherryReviewed in the United States on April 7, 2014
4.0 out of 5 stars
Great Cast - Story Not Satisfying
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Following the storylines of nine people in the same movie was not as difficult as it sounds. All of their parts were good and easy to keep straight. The cast is amazing: Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H Macy, Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise (he played a jerk), Melinda Dillon, Jason Robards, John C Reilly...

For PSHoffman fans (of which I am a huge one), he played the role of a hospice nurse to patient Jason Robards. As usual, PSHoffman took a non-starring role and gave a hell of a performance, as did they all.

In a scene where the dying man's son comes to see him, which is an extremely dramatic part, PSHoffman stands in the doorway in the background. After a short while, Hoffman moves further out of the shot, like he was conscious of giving the actor as much of the spotlight as possible. I have a feeling this was just him and perhaps not in the script.

I think all of the storylines were very good. I thought the script was very good. Can't beat the actors. It was about 3 hours long, but it was so interesting the time flew by.

A descripton of the movie says that everyone falls into place with one another at the end, and I didn't see that happening. Some characters are revealed to have closer ties with one other that came together at the end, but some didn't. What was downright weird was at the end, something came out of the sky that seemed pretty far out, and somehow that was supposed to be part of tying the characters together. It didn't work for me.

I don't know if I'm going to watch the 2nd dvd that came with this. I think if I need another dvd to watch to understand the movie, what is the sense? Do watch for the acting. Do not expect a great ending.
7 people found this helpful
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