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Magnolia Film - Breakdown of the Pharmacy Scene

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Motivation of Linda

If you have not seen the film Magnolia you need to go find a copy and watch it. The drama of the film just builds and builds until the final scene. It is by far the most unusual and unexpected end to a film you will ever see.

The film is loaded with great character and drama throughout and the scene of Linda in the pharmacy is one example of extreme reaction.

The moody music and the atmospheric lighting sets up the drama and the tension of the scene. Directed and written by Paul Thomas Anderson. He has created a superb dramatic film that has you gripped.

The cinematography and the acting wreaks of quality. It includes stars such as Tom Cruise and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. In the one scene I want to mention it is Julianne Moore who puts in a stellar performance. Not just in this scene but the whole movie.

Julianne Moore, in this particular scene, plays the troubled character of Linda. She has gone to the pharmacy to collect a prescription. Her husband is dying at home and from the previous scenes in the film, we know she is not in a good way.

The premise of the film is that often unfortunate things happen as a matter of chance. So the viewer has already been prepared for the unexpected.

But Linda enters the pharmacy and holds it together. She hands over a large prescription of very strong medicine. It is seen to cause a reaction with the pharmacy staff, intrigued to know what sort of person would take this type of medication.

There is an immediate clash with the young Pharmacist. As a middle aged woman with years of life experience she clearly hates being judged by the younger shop assistant, who has half her experience.

The tension wracks up when the young man takes his concern to the senior pharmacist. Linda is agitated clearly and the longer she has to spend in that shop the worse she becomes.

It is like a ticking time bomb watching the pharmacist and assistant talk about Linda and give her questioning looks. The doubt they have escalates when they make a phone call to verify the validity of the prescription. Linda is being critically judged and not enjoying the experience.

Linda with the single goal of collecting her prescription gets increasingly agitated by the delay. The obstacle being the stalling of the pharmacist and assistant.

Almost oblivious to the distress he is causing Linda, the Assistant starts attempts to fill the stilted silence with small talk. This only succeeds in feeding the anger inside Linda. Yet she remains calm and silent, barely able to hold it together. She knows she can't show her true state of mind in case she risks getting hold of the medication.

The Assistants suggestive digs and innuendo about drug taking and lifestyle look like they cut intrusively into Linda's state of mind. He continues to pry about the strength of the drugs, reason for taking that amount. Linda has no time for the intrusiveness. We know she is dealing with a dying husband as well as her own troubled guilty mind.


Linda's Outburst

Then we get Linda's reaction. She has achieved her goal and picked up the medication. Now she can unload with both barrels. She turns the judgement around back on them. Questioning how they can judge her and her life. How they can abuse the power they have to put her through this pain. Truth is Linda already judges herself for actions in her life. She did not need strangers to do the same just from the contents of a piece of paper.

Linda erupts with a targeted attack. She turns the judgement on them.

You motherfucker...you motherfucker.... YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE, WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU? WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

It is a great climax to the scene and contrast to the stagnant silence that preceded it.

Her bad language is part of her character as someone in a fractured state with what is going on in her life.

She refuses to be pacified. She unloads her feeling to them both for their critical judgement of her.

They incense her more, with patronising terms like 'lady' , that only ignite her fury. She expresses the full extent of the effects of their actions towards her. A great confrontational scene with aggressive dialogue.

She lets them know she has death going on in her life. She wants to take responsibility and feel guilty about the way they acted.


Scene Climax

This scene has a great sound effect that indicates the scene is coming to a climax. It comes in the form of the bell from the Pharmacist that says the prescription is ready.

The bell is like the start of a new round in a boxing ring. Linda is prepared to come out fighting. She is about to be released when she gets hold of the medicine.

When the assistant hands over the medicine Linda grabs it with desperation. She wants the pain to end. She wants the chance to tell them what she thinks.

She can get her own back from their judgments.

Leaving the Scene

Linda has the last word. The last stab at making them feel bad. To make them feel guilty for the way they have treated her and judged her.

She throws the money at them that she owes. Her last disrespectful gesture at them. Her last fiery gesture to get her point across. In case her words and actions had not gotten through to them.

She has got what she came for but has had to endure unnecessary pain, in her eyes. But she is glad it is all over. She can carry on with the real torment of what waits for her in the rest of her life.


This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2018 cc060369

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