First Date “Magnolia” (1999) dir. P.T. Anderson

This is one of the many moving scenes from P.T. Anderson’s magnificent 1999 film “Magnolia.” This is the first date between John C. Reilly’s decent police officer character Jim and Melora Walters’ troubled Claudia character. This event occurs about 2/3 of the way into the film. Jim is a very good, compassionate man who feels tremendous guilt over losing his gun on the job. Claudia is a promiscuous drug addict trying to blot out an abusive childhood. On the grand scale of things, Jim’s troubles are far less severe than Claudia’s … but somehow, they seem to be meeting at the right time in the right place in their lives. Nobody in their right mind would EVER have a first date like this … but as we all know … if we’re lucky … we know that life is strange. And sometimes fate compels you to act in ways that you otherwise wouldn’t … because you have a strange hunch that the person you happened to just meet and sitting across from could potentially change your life for the better. Granted, a lot of people choose this path and wind up with someone who is a complete disaster. But sometimes it goes the other way, too.

This scene always brings a lump to my throat and is one of the best scenes in a film that I consider one of the best of the 1990s.

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