Killian Maddox lives with his ailing veteran grandfather, obsessively working out between court-mandated therapy appointments and part-time shifts at a grocery store where he harbors a crush on a friendly cashier. Though Killian’s struggles to read social cues and maintain control of his volatile temper amplify his sense of disconnection amid a hostile world, nothing deters him from his fiercely protected dream of bodybuilding superstardom, not even the doctors who warn that he’s causing permanent damage to his body with his quest.
Acting talent of the year Jonathan Majors (Devotion, the upcoming Creed III) stars in this indie drama about a bodybuilder dealing with family and self-esteem issues.
The insanity, the rabbit hole, is steroids, particularly the rage they can create. Yes, the American Dream is being crushed but it’s not the insanity that comes with living in a corrupted world— it’s the madness that comes with living in and with the corrupt inner one.
Roid rage has never been depicted more clearly on film. Majors gives it an all leveling rage that is horrifying. I saw it. I felt it. And instead of being repulsed I wanted to hug this wounded, hurting child-man.
Unfortunately, the brilliant first half gets derailed by a lunatic second one.
The seedy part of Killian Maddox’s dream will be explored, must be explored. The nightmare must come. And for a film fan and promising director it must be Scorsese. Must be Taxi Driver. Must be dreams crushed to dust. Travis Bickle and Ratso Rizzo must be mired in the mud. A more sordid Midnight Cowboy must exist. Even the end coda where he throws off his dream, can’t totally fix it.
“You see what I’ve become,” the antihero screams. I cry. “You could have been a contender. But now you’re a bum,” I shout in my best Marlon Brando echo. Sometimes, you don’t need to kill your darlings.
Magazine Dreams gets a split grade. The brilliant first half is a 4 out of 5, an A. The Scorsese imitation is a 2 out of 5, a C-.
Credits DIRECTOR(S) ELIJAH BYNUM SCREENWRITER ELIJAH BYNUM PRODUCER JENNIFER FOX DAN GILROY JEFFREY SOROS SIMON HORSMAN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER JONATHAN MAJORS LUKE RODGERS ANDREW BLAU CO-PRODUCER CHRISTOPHER S. BRYSON DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY ADAM ARKAPAW EDITOR JON OTAZUA CASTING DIRECTOR AVY KAUFMAN PRODUCTION DESIGNER FREYJA BARDELL COSTUME DESIGNER BEX CROFTON-ATKINS PRINCIPAL CAST JONATHAN MAJORS HALEY BENNETT TAYLOUR PAIGE MIKE O'HEARN HARRISON PAGE HARRIET SANSOM HARRIS YEAR 2022 CATEGORY FEATURE COUNTRY UNITED STATES LANGUAGE ENGLISH RUN TIME 124 MIN COMPANY LOS ANGLES MEDIA FUND