Magnolia ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Magnolia reminded me a lot of Game of Thrones Season 8. The film crumbles under the weight of its own ambition, and the narrative does not know how to tidy up the sprawling, awe-inspiring threads that started but can’t seem to find a way to end.

I was impressed by the style of editing that constantly cut from scene to scene without any sense of closure – it kept me on the edge of my seat. I was also moved by the emotional swells and decrescendos, largely showing the pains of failing in relationships or the pains of saying goodbye to your past or loved ones.

But the frogs. The damn frogs. The story chose an easy way out by turning the dense first 2.5 hours of the movie into a laughingstock, introducing a ha-ha oh-so-ridiculous twist to lighten the mood. What to do with the brutality of life? Throw a lot of bloody frogs into the mix and cue the cheerful guitar song! Life is ridiculous! The significance of the movie’s entire buildup collapsed with this nonsensical “happening.” The film conveniently borrows the idea that weird things happen by chance in order to hastily shut down the whole mosaic of stories. It’s like making Daenerys suddenly burn down King’s Landing for no reason.

Look, I liked the relentless, unforgiving cuts from character to character. The parallel narratives, camerawork, soundtrack, and wonderfully chaotic (yet realistic and effective) dialogue were great. But this epic was not able to deliver at the end.

I really prefer PTA (and all movies in general) when he hones into the intricacies of one compelling story. A cult leader and a veteran as his foil? Good. Porn stars looking to find a family and sense of purpose? Yes, this one is a great use of an ensemble cast. A lot of people in despair who are ultimately struck (double entendre intended) by frogs? Not so much.

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