Personal Bits: Magnolia


Everybody’s got a story, and we all have our favourites and guilty pleasures. From the art-house to the bargain basement, movies impact us all in different ways.  Judge not lest ye be judged. Here we hang out our Personal Bits.  This week’s guest is Chris Elena.

When you see, on average, a movie a day for 21 years, it would take one emotional juggernaut of a film to convince you that yes, you can have a favourite among the many. That it’s the one film you need and essentially defines you. Having said all of that, Paul Thomas Anderson’s three-hour, multilayered epic, Magnolia is my favourite movie of all time.

After seeing so many films, you start to know the ins and outs of film storytelling. No convention or cliché is safe, and luckily with Magnolia, it defies and challenges just about every single one you’ve come to recognize in a common drama, especially one that focuses on a cornucopia of characters each more damaged than the next.

Set on one rainy day in the San Fernando Valley, nine lives will be faced with the repercussions of their past whilst in the meantime hoping to find love and forgiveness. The more severe the weather gets, the more chaotic and frenetic their day spirals for a cast that includes Tom Cruise, John C. Reilly, Philip Baker Hall, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Melora Walters and Jason Robards. Each and every performance here is just about perfect. To spoil any more of the stories in Magnolia would be a serious crime. If anyone were to do so, you have the permission of this writer to punch them square in the face.

Many films of this ilk struggle to make one story interesting and compelling, let alone nine. That’s only the beginning of what makes Magnolia something to behold. Each story is rich in character and emotion, not for one second do you feel neglected by the film, it invites the audience to feel with the characters the minute something drastic happens. The clichéd term “Emotional Rollercoaster” was designed for something exactly like Magnolia.

There’s always at least one scene in your favourite film that makes you go “That’s why I love movies, that is why I need movies.” In Magnolia it’s hands-down the moment between John C. Reilly’s Character, a gentle hearted cop and Melora Walters’ character, a junkie with a conscience at the restaurant on their “date”. I won’t say anymore of what happens but Reilly’s performance in this scene alone reminded me why I love film. To want to reach out to your TV screen and hug the character pouring their heart out in front of you is the work of cinematic magic, one that very few films could pull off.

Got your own Personal Bits? If you want to write about your favourite film, please let us know! We will feature a new one every week!