Coincidences, chances--you might have come across these themes as common in movie industry (remember Amelie and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?). One of these movies' main tasks is to emphasise on how things can be naturally aligned in such way that they lead to a long chain of consequences, with the aid of precise timing. Sometimes these make us wonder, "What if s/he misses that second? What if s/he forgets to pick up the gun?" and yes, usually that's the case in real world, in which we miss some chances, often without even acquiring the knowledge of it. For instance, if you actually took this train instead of the earlier one, you would 'incidentally' bump into your childhood friend. How could you know? You miss this kind of chances everyday. But these chances, we sometimes get in touch with them, and we conveniently label them as 'coincidences'.
Therefore, we get fascinated when coincidences--not just one or two, but a string of many--are served fresh in front of us. However, unlike the usual, theatrically narrated scenario in Amelie and Benjamin Button, Magnolia (1999) uses a more realistic, down-to-earth approach.
Magnolia is rather lengthy for a drama movie, and in some parts it does lag--the tension that's been kept way up sometimes plummets just like that--and there are a few moments when you just can't help but question, "God, when is this going to end?" But that's Magnolia, a massive mess that refuses to be tangled until the end. Though it's not like Confessions where you really have to wait until its very final punchline to get things sorted out, some things in Magnolia do get settled and it gives you the essential sense of relief and fulfillment.
Magnolia is an amusing ride that stirs your emotion (A LOT), with several mundane, cliche scenes (people fed up, people sick, people in love, genius turned idiot--they are all around us) taken up a notch with a whimsical touch. Lots of swearing, lies, triumphant public speaking, screwed up interviews, all equipped with superb acting from the cast. In addition, it mixes elements of childhood and adulthood (no adolescence, nothing in between) very well, spiced up with subtle, dark absurdity that peaks at one hefty, extraordinary scene.
I would say Magnolia is very relevant, not one of those irresponsible fairytales that never get finished, nor is it a hollow drama that goes around in multiple circles. It keeps its balance at check, it's bittersweet at the right dose, it accomplishes its initial goal--to be a good drama-- and that's why I am very fond of it.