An amazingly assured first feature
Very original, fascinating, amazingly assured, unique first feature
from Paul Thomas Anderson. A darker, creepier, more depressing side of
the Nevada gambling world than we usually get to see.
Anchored by an absolutely stunning performance by Philip Baker Hall,
and very good ones by John C. Reily, Gwenth Paltrow and Samuel Jackson.
The themes that haunt much of Anderson's work are all here. The need
for a family structure no matter how dysfunctional, the failed attempts
to find happiness through material things, etc.
Yes, there are a few weaker moments, but overall this heralds the
arrival of a major contemporary filmmaker. Great use of music, camera
work, and Pinteresque dialogue. Really worth your time to see..
Sublimely crafted never predictable
I came to this movie being a fan of Boogie Nights and Magnolia. I'd never
heard of this film until a normally very hard to please friend, who had
rented it at random, enthused heavily about it. The cast is recognisable;
most of the Magnolia cast are there and even an Aimee Mann track features
over the end credits.
Philip Baker Hall stars as Sydney, a mysterious figure who helps out John, a
guy he meets sitting outside a diner who's fell on hard times. Their
relationship develops, with Sydney acting as a mentor for John (John C
Reilly). Time moves on and John and Sydney meet a stewardess, Clementine
(Gwyneth Paltrow), and John becomes friendly with Jimmy (Samuel L. Jackson).
I won't go any further plotwise, as part of the joy of this film is the way
it unravels, but there are some truly fantastic moments such as the last
frame is beautifully symbolic of Sydney's life as a whole.
It's highly recognisable as a production with many techniques later used by
the director. The feel is warm, the characters take centre stage and the
dialogue is superb and engaging.