By Craig Singleton (Wigan, England)
Love, sickness, regret, forgiveness, compassion, growing, discovery, risk, care and so much more. A film with all of these aspects within is a bold thing to do for Paul Thomas Anderson even after the success of Boogie Nights. With another ensemble cast comes this cross-character drama in which the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman who stars once said it was the most perfect film he’s ever seen.
The film plays into the belief that fate exists and that everything must happen for a reason without coincidences. The film also focuses on unexplained events. There are four main stories that are shown, each crossing over each other to give the idea that it’s in linear arrangement. Focusing on the plot alone is that it is very ambitious considering the many issues that are in each sub-story.
The characters are some of the most memorable that I’ve seen in my adult life, in particular that of Tom Cruise’s. He plays a male motivational speaker named Frank Mackey. Every layer of this man’s personality is mesmerizing. He has a shallow guide for men to achieve their goal of getting close to woman with his hilarious course tagline, ‘No pussy is unreachable’ and an opening line that completely shocks into asking “Did he really just say that?” Cruise brings character traits never seen before and dialogue never heard before. He’s a real star in this top cast, but does that mean he’s completely superior to everybody else? Not a chance.
Anderson’s best decision as director and writer is to try his best to give every character an equal amount of screen time. Every actor gives their all to emotionally connect the viewer to them from a completely moving performance from Philip Baker Hall who was also very good in PTA’s 1996 film Hard Eight. Julianne Moore was very convincing as a guilt-stricken person who was also in PTA’S 1997 film Boogie Nights. Anderson seems to have a great connection with his cast to help prohibit their performances. Not one person is a weak link which only highlights just how great the film is.
The film not winning any of the Academy Awards it was nominated for shouldn’t matter, however I feel strongly against the fact that it wasn’t even nominated for Best Editing. The Editing in a film that has a long running time, which has a big cast and has multiple stories crossing over each other to create the connective force is imperative. It is a masterclass for aspiring editors to watch as it allows the viewer to fully view the story in how it’s supposed to be viewed.
From tracking shots and dolly shots, timed lighting to panned shots, it’s filmmaking brilliance. Every detail is obviously well rehearsed and executed near perfectly for me. Complemented by a versatile score and a musical set piece in the third act, it only marks itself as one of the greatest films of all time in terms of storytelling and entertainment.
My score for the film is 96%. Lowest mark for soundtrack, highest for writing. One of those films that can have you thinking about days after viewing, it should be watched more than three times within a year to truly appreciate the magic that Paul Thomas Anderson brought to the screen.