‘This, please, cannot be that’: the Constructed World of P.T Anderson’s 'Magnolia'

Kim Wilkins


This article offers a reading of P.T Anderson’s ‘Magnolia’ (1999) as a film that employs the formal and stylistic conventions of mainstream cinema, which promote character alignment and narrative engagement, while simultaneously interjecting forms associated with literary traditions that highlights the film’s artificiality. The insertion of scriptive elements both serves to highlight the film’s construction as a text developed from a written form, the screenplay, and amplifies its overall reflexivity. In this way I argue that the reflexive strategies of the film mediate the gravity of its thematic concerns.

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