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Review of “Magazine Dreams”

Still of Jonathan Majors in "Magazine Dreams" wearing only underwear in a darkly lit room

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Glen Wilson

Park City, Utah, Feb 3 – “Magazine Dreams” is a 2023 American drama film written and directed by Elijah Bynum in which Jonathan Majors portrays a shy, grocery store clerk, Killian Maddox, an aspiring professional bodybuilder determined to dream big and reach his goals. “Magazine Dreams” is a heavy film, there will be scenes that are tough to process and moments where you’re taken deep into Killian’s reality. A beautifully shot film with amazing visuals, a well told story, and great performances across the board from its actors, the film premiered January 20, 2023, at Sundance Film Festival.

Disabilities and mental health play a huge role in “Magazine Dreams,” as Killian is a caregiver for his disabled grandfather while dealing with his own therapy sessions, anger, childhood traumas, and psychosis. Did I mention anger? Killian’s rage is a constant theme within the story, and it never fails to amaze me how far the character goes when triggered, catching the entire audience by surprise. Part of the anger stems from Killian’s use of steroids, which he injects on the regular as he works to create the perfect body for himself. No matter what situation Killian found himself in, his “Hulk”-like anger was the root of it every time. This surprised me in one scene where a failed date went wrong. Killian took a new route in this scene and handled it quite graciously, although his previous behavior and difficulty picking up on social cues were the reason the date failed.

At the end of the day, Killian just wants to be seen and leave a legacy behind. His entire motivation is how he will be remembered, which almost leads him to making a costly mistake at the climax of the story. We don’t know at the time if Killian would follow through with such a drastic decision, but we see him fantasize about how he will be perceived and remembered if he does decide to follow through and pull it off, which he ultimately decides against. This becomes a paradigm shift for our character and starts to shift Killian in a more positive direction and awakening to start the journey of self-acceptance and love.

A gut-wrenching rollercoaster of emotions, “Magazine Dreams” is a must watch. The portrayals of disabilities are more on the accurate side and it’s clear this movie is a strong blend of the drama and psychological thriller genres.

Meet the Author

Jacquill Moss

Jacquill Moss is the Entertainment Media Program Coordinator at RespectAbility. After being selected through RespectAbility as one of 10 participants of the WarnerMedia Access Early Career Bootcamp, Moss was recruited for the Entertainment Media Program Coordinator position. Born with nocturnal epilepsy, this position not only aligned with Moss’ diverse skillset but also his lived disability experience, passion for advocacy and evolving the narrative. Outside of RespectAbility, Moss works on bringing awareness to unhoused youth, mental health and foster children to support those in need.

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