Hollywood Flashback: When Julianne Moore's 'Magnolia' Monologue Bloomed in Berlin
“I see memes and GIFs of that scene all the time," actor Pat Healy tells THR. "It’s been 18 years and people are still talking about it.”
Berlin Film Festival attendees were dropped into the San Fernando Valley back in 2000, when Paul Thomas Anderson screened his California-set ensemble drama Magnolia, Julianne Moore’s second film with her Boogie Nights director. Also starring Tom Cruise, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jason Robards and Patton Oswalt, among many others, the 188-minute tapestry of intertwining Los Angeles lives and their coincidental losses already had been met with mixed reviews in the weeks before its Berlinale gala screening.
The Hollywood Reporter summarized the debate as either “a masterful work of the cinematic arts or a self-indulgent day-in-our-lives concept movie,” yet ultimately called the New Line release “a noble endeavor undone by the glaring shortcomings in filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson’s ambitious vision of the here and now,” as it “starts promisingly and continues to surprise throughout an inexcusably long running time.”
The mixed reaction was no deterrent for its director, whose previous films Hard Eight and Boogie Nights were more widely praised. “I’m loving this kind of critical polarity,” said Anderson of Magnolia at the time. “It’s the first time it’s happened to me and I’m actually getting off on it a little bit.”
The sprawling project (complete with a third-act song) went on to win the Golden Bear, which some said was awarded because of the fest’s mediocre competition lineup. But it also nabbed Cruise an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for playing the larger-than-life, sex-centric self-help guru Frank T.J. Mackey. The film also was Oscar-nominated for Anderson’s original screenplay and Aimee Mann’s original song "Save Me."
And as devastated trophy wife Linda Partridge, Moore delivered a climactic monologue as a meltdown in the middle of a pharmacy. “I was knocked out by her: her beauty, her power and how she could access such an emotional reservoir on command,” Pat Healy, who played the young pharmacist questioning her drug cocktail, tells THR.
That moment, locked after only a few takes, has since secured the film’s steadfast spot in pop culture. “When the movie first came out, it wasn’t a big commercial hit and the reaction was largely mixed, but I see memes and GIFs of that scene all the time," says Healy. "It’s been 18 years and people are still talking about it.”