Feb 082013

To mark the first birthday of An Online Universe and in following suit of Sam’s wonderful post I, (Chris Elena) have decided to share one of my favourite scene of all time. In fact it may just be my favourite.

You wanna kiss me?
The Scene: Jim Kurring (John C Reilly) is a sweet and honest police officer who has fallen for Claudia Wilson-Gator (Melora Walters). She, however, is a junkie who has more than a few issues that need to be dealt with; many of which stem from her shaded past. He’s asked her out to dinner having only just met her earlier that day, unaware of her addictions and skeletons. This is the date.

What makes it great

John C Reilly – This is a character that is so honest and kind on paper, it would almost seem too unbelievable for words. You love Jim the minute you’re first introduced to him in the film and understand what he’s truly all about… essentially an amalgamation of everything that’s right with the world. So when it is time for actor John C Reilly to plead for this woman’s love and be truly honest as Jim Kurring, the officer we love and understand (but soon see the flaws of), you can only hope his performance does it justice much like it has for the rest of the film. If you watch the scene above and remember he was in Talladega Nights, You’ll just know the tear trickling down your cheek at the 2 minute mark is because he does more than become Jim Kurring. Heartbreaking.

Melora Walters – Now, to play a junkie is not easy for an actor. You’d have to minimalise all mannerisms that are associated with addiction, purely because we, as an audience should associate with the character’s plight instead of their abuses. Claudia Wilson-Gator is a character that’s exceptionally troubled and plagued with guilt and denial. We see her breaking at the seams in almost every scene, yet we know that her drug abuse is the result, rather than the plight itself. Melora Walters is the reason for all the attributes mentioned above, she lets emotion accentuate the dialogue and the pain in which the character’s going through. If you can watch her breakdown and moment of self-degradation and not feel a thing, then I would strongly suggest checking to see if you’re still breathing.

Paul Thomas Anderson – They don’t call him The Master for nuthin’. The writing in this scene has more subtlety that meets the ear, yet we’re given so much on a silver platter for both of these characters that PT has made certain that you understand and relate to. His dialogue allows these characters to pour their hearts out and not for a single moment do we think twice. His direction allows both performances to really flesh out the scene and chemistry between the two characters is allowed to take center stage. So much more can be said about why PTA makes the scene and the film great, but when all’s said and done, It’s Paul Thomas F*cking Anderson. The shot of the dolly pan in as they kiss is perfection.

Magnolia is my favourite film of all time and Paul Thomas Anderson is my favourite writer/director. It’s this scene that confirmed both. There’s an emotional eruption of character interaction in this scene that most films don’t have anymore. It’s genuine, sweet, sad and wonderful and it’s only 2 minutes long. Both performances are underrated and PT invites you to be invested and does everything in his power to confirm your investment with these characters.

Plus it has one of the greatest closings to a scene I’ve ever seen.

They’ve both poured their heart out, Jim pleads for her to just talk to him;

Jim Kurring: Whatever it is, just say it, you’ll see.

Claudia Wilson-Gator: …You wanna kiss me, Jim?

Jim Kurring: Yes I do!

It’s at that moment where the two finally kiss and it’s at this moment, hopefully that you’ll see Magnolia once again and realize the wonder this scene can bring.
By Chris Elena