| In the Spotlight |
Magnolia is an R-rated movie. Its language will curl the hair of even the most jaded. So beware. And yet, this exceedingly strange movie comes closer to a biblical Message than anything to come out of Hollywood in years. In this movie, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, life is not meaningless after all. We follow five sets of characters whose lives parallel and sometimes intersect. They have lived as if they could create their own meanings, but in facing up to death they wake up to the fact that they have sinned and desperately need forgiveness. The narrative center is a man on his deathbed (Jason Robards), wanting to reconcile with the son (Tom Cruise) he abandoned; the son has become a brutal, obnoxious motivational speaker on how to use women as sex objects. The moral center, though, is a good-hearted cop (John C. Reilly), a Christian who prays, talks about Jesus, and is presented in a wholly positive light. And watch for biblical symbolism like the signboard "Exodus 8:2," along with other 8's and 2's scattered through the movie. If you want to be surprised, look up the verse afterward and contemplate the out-of-the-blue sign of God's judgment, and the grace that intervenes to release sinners from bondage.