2023 is truly the year of Jonathan Majors. So far we’ve seen him as the villainous Kang in Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania, where he was clearly the best thing about that movie. He also slugged it out with Michael B. Jordan in Creed III. But I swear that you’ve not seen anything until you’ve seen Majors as an unhinged bodybuilder in Magazine Dreams, one of the most divisive, controversial films to emerge at Sundance this year.
After its polarizing world premiere in Park City, it took a few weeks for Magazine Dreams to find a home. But eventually, it was Searchlight Pictures that acquired the film, and now it’s been set for release on December 8th, putting it right in the thick of the awards season.
Written and directed by Elijah Bynum (Hot Summer Nights), the film stars Majors as Killian Maddox, a man driven by an obsession to be the best bodybuilder in the world, with little care to the damage his extreme workouts and steroid use are having on the body he’s attempting to perfect. Killian’s story as a man who becomes violently obsessed with perfection and fame in a world he feels marginalized by, parallels similar stories in Taxi Driver and Joker. But seen from a Black man’s perspective it brings another layer to the conversation, and of course, Majors gives a commanding performance you won’t be able to look away from.
Also in the cast are Haley Bennett, Taylour Paige, and Mike O’Hearn.
The film won Sundance’s Jury Award for Creative Vision.
Magazine Dreams’ exploration of toxic masculinity, incel culture, and body dysmorphia is extremely grim, and in my review I said that it won’t be for everyone. It’s also a wildly uneven movie that seems unsure of where it wants Killian’s story to go. I also suggested that there’s a better cut of the movie out there, and that Bynum might want to re-edit it before a theatrical release. We’ll see if that happens.