"This is why the film is now more relevant than ever. In our current cultural climate of hyperpolarization and unceasing outrage, of cancelling people and policing speech, that central human question—“What can we forgive?”—becomes all the more crucial to debate in our heads, amongst our families and friends, and in society at large. Does Quiz Kid Donnie Smith deserve forgiveness? How about Earl Partridge? Frank T.J. Mackey? Jimmy Gator? As with all great films, Magnolia gives us no direct answer. It doesn’t necessarily advocate a blanket forgiveness; it merely asks us to engage more deeply with the question.
Of course, you might reasonably ask, does a film need an over-three-hour-runtime just to pose the question, “What can we forgive?” But Magnolia does need its length; the bloated runtime helps the movie enact stylistically and formally its own thematic inquisition. In other words, the film asks us as viewers, “What can we forgive?”—not just of ourselves and of each other, but of a film."