Magazine Dreams – Sundance 2023

Jonathan Majors appears in Magazine Dreams by Elijah Bynum, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Glen Wilson.

Jonathan Majors is on a role as the actor made his return to Sundance with a strong performance in the very intense Magazine Dreams.

I’m not kidding around when it comes to the intensity of the film. It is not an easy film to watch. There are many times when the lead character loses his temper. At the same time, there are instances where it appears that his temper gets the rest of him, only for the camera to take is back to the present moment and he doesn’t go down that path. Linearly speaking, it can be confusing to that extent.

Anyway, Killian Maddox (Jonathan Majors) is a bodybuilder and he has dreams of being a superstar. Nobody, not his family or therapist, is going to get in the way of this dream. If you look at his bedroom, he has posters hanging up of his favorite body builders. Hell, he writes frequent fan letters to one of them and you’ll see for yourself what happens. Anyway, Killian is living with his grandfather, who isn’t in the best of health. When he isn’t attending court-ordered therapy sessions, working part time at a grocery store, or crushing on a casher, he can be found working out. Aside from his uncontrollable temper, Kilian cannot read any social cues.

The film explores how toxic that the bodybuilding culture can be to an extent. It’s a toxicity that takes its toll on Killian and we see this through his actions. Again, this is a very intense film and it gets dark at times. It just speaks to how human Killian is. Some of us are more lonely than others. Some of us have the ability to read social cues where others–like Killian–do not. I didn’t expect Magazine Dreams to be the sort of film to take an audience on twists and turns but sure enough, it did.

Going into the festival, I was going to watch it virtually but this changed as soon as I secured a ticket for a public screening. I’m glad that I saw it on the big screen. Watching virtually would have led to too many distractions. Whether the cut screened at Sundance will be the same one that audiences see upon release is another question. That’s not to say anything bad about the film but there’s a strong film to deliver with the right cuts made.

While Magazine Dreams is another Jonathan Majors showcase, it stands to benefit from being tightened a bit for its eventual release.

CAST: Jonathan Majors, Haley Bennett, Taylour Paige, Mike O’Hearn, Harrison Page, Harriet Sansom Harris

Magazine Dreams held its world premiere during the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition program. Grade: 3.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.