Don’t shoot me!
This is Paul Thomas Anderson’s take on a Robert Altman kind of film – dozens of characters and plotlines, all running at once, with frequent dizzying crosscuts between them all. Anderson’s grand scheme is all about synchronicity, and how everything is connected to everything else.
The large cast, many of which were also in Thomas’s Boogie Nights, is excellent all the way down the line. Tom Cruise is getting most of the attention – as is usual – but this is an ensemble, so he carries the same weight as Jason Robards, John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Phillip Baker Hall, Melinda Dillon – the entire cast brings a little laugh, a little tear.
At a watch-checking 3 hours, he has a bit of a challenge keeping audiences from getting impatient. There are times when he fails and one wishes for the end to hurry up and get here. There are points where the film becomes embarrassingly pretentious and corny. But there are other times where it is absolutely brilliant. PTA needed a long running time for Boogie Nights, since the story covered over a decade’s time, but this story all takes place – I think – within 24 hours. At times it feels like it was filmed in real time. But as I said, the rest of the time it’s pure magic.
Besides – we’ll always cut some extra slack for the son of Ghoulardi.