Dazed like in a Bosch painting or a Dali dream
Review of Magnolia (1999) movie, by Stefan Stenudd
No, I'm not sure that the world according to director/writer Paul Thomas Anderson is more true than anyone else's - but his vision is portrayed with such clarity and emphasis, it is definitely true to him, and believable to us others.
We get to follow the absurd situation of several characters, and how their drastic fates get interwoven. It's a sophisticated plot, indeed, which could easily turn it into more of an intellectual construction than a story of flesh and blood. It doesn't happen, though, and don't ask me why not. I guess it's simply too well told.
Usually, the writer and the director being one and the same, lessens the end result. When a story is to be realized - on stage or on screen - it gains from the natural conflict between writer and director. Already there, a struggle is introduced. Anderson is one of the few to pull it off - which puts him way up there among Bergman and the like.
But can he repeat his feat? I wonder. The width and depth of Magnolia rather suggest that he has, by this movie, told all the stories he had in his head. I hope I'm wrong.
6 January 2003
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I'm a Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction books in both Swedish and English. I'm also an artist, an historian of ideas and a 7 dan Aikikai Shihan aikido instructor. Click the header to read my full bio.