• Tom Cruise stars in Magnolia (SBS VICELAND)Source: SBS VICELAND
Tom Cruise on the screen in Magnolia is practically begging you to hate him.
By
SBS Guide

15 Nov 2017 - 12:33 PM  UPDATED 17 Nov 2017 - 12:42 PM

What am I doing? I'm quietly judging you.

-TJ Mackey (Tom Cruise)

Tom Cruise is never better on screen than when he is playing a subverted version of his on-screen persona. His choices are canny - he knows how he is perceived by audiences and is always clever in leaning into that persona when warranted and knowing when the audience want him to lean away. 

Magnolia has Cruise almost challenging the audience to embrace him on screen. He knows how some of the audience feel about him and he wraps himself in that revulsion. As TJ Mackey, Cruise is seen as a self-help guru presenting seminars to dispirited men on how to embrace their masculinity and attract woman through mind games. As Cruise prances back and forth on screen, he's begging the audience to hate him.

TJ Mackey is Cruise as the smug jerk. It delivers the audience the satisfaction of knowing they were right about Cruise all along.

The genius of Cruise is knowing when to strip away that artifice and let the audience in. Cruise has never been better than the final act of Magnolia where the character is laid bare on screen, revealing the man that lies beneath the bluster and pomp of the MRA-styled guru. 

Magnolia Review

Magnolia Trailer

Magnolia airs on Friday night on SBS.

TV Movie Guide Highlights: 13 - 19 November
When it comes to movies, there's something for everybody on SBS, SBS VICELAND, NITV and SBS On Demand. Find out what's screening where and when.

More at SBS Movies:
Replacing Kevin Spacey on 'All the Money in the World' will cost millions
An educated guess about how they'll pull off the great actor swap of 2017.
What's new to SBS On Demand: November 2017
Get set to stream some new favourites with these new arrivals at SBS On Demand.
TV Movie Guide Highlights: 13 - 19 November
When it comes to movies, there's something for everybody on SBS, SBS VICELAND, NITV and SBS On Demand. Find out what's screening where and when.