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Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

United States 1999 188 mins.

Anderson’s third feature takes the theme of chance and applies it to the stories of a cadre of Angelinos on the brink, where chance meetings both threaten to disrupt a fragile order and offer a shot at redemption springing from unexpected sources. Two classic, titanic father-figures structure the film’s expansive focus: dying movie mogul Earl Partridge (Jason Robards) and falling-from-grace quiz show host Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall), from whose turbulent lives flower intertwining threads: estranged children, disillusioned spouses, and the aftermath of fame, both real-time and in reflection. However, with such colossal downfall comes unexpected, life-saving absolution. Magnolia, a huge critical success upon release, significantly widens the scope and complexity of Anderson’s interrogation of the American family in spectacular fashion.