“Magnolia” is one of those rare films that works in two entirely different ways. In one sense, it tells absorbing stories, filled with detail, told with precision and not a little humor. On another sense, it is a parable. The message of the parable, as with all good parables, is expressed not in words but in emotions. After we have felt the pain of these people, and felt the love of the policeman and the nurse, we have been taught something intangible, but necessary to know.
This should not come as too much of a surprise, considering that Ebert has always been very supportive of Paul Thomas Anderson’s work and gave “Magnolia” four stars when it came out. Still, it is nice to see this unfairly derided film get such a high profile plaudit.