Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Master

In the opening moments of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, it's made quite clear how much of a loner Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is. He doesn't really fit anywhere he goes, and it's obvious that all he wants is someone to understand him.

Enter Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the leader (or "Master" as his followers call him) of a faith-based organization. Freddie is intrigued by Dodd's wisdom and charisma. It isn't long before Freddie joins the organization.

Both men are on completely different spectrums. Freddie is a loose cannon, an animal as Dodd calls him. He suffers from random bursts of violent anger when threatened. Dodd, on the other hand, always keeps a positive disposition when in the presence of people. His friendly persona manages to mask the controlling person that he is.

Anderson always knows how to pick the right actors, whether it be an ensemble cast like Boogie Nights and Magnolia or a single actor-driven film like Punch-Drunk love and There Will Be Blood. The Master is no exception. Hoffman displays a sly confidence in a similar vein to Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry. Phoenix, graciously (and hopefully) back in the game, proves that he's still got it.

The Master is probably the most bizarre of Anderson's films but also the most perplexing. It raises questions about a person's control on others, many never answered. It may be confusing and/or frustrating to some, but The Master is strangely fascinating to watch. Well done, Mr. Anderson.

My Rating: *****


  1. Great review! I didn't love the film as much as you did, but Phoenix and Hoffman were fantastic. And I enjoyed Jonny Greenwood's score as well.

  2. Great review! Though I keep reading the movie is bizarre, why is that? The story seems like a regular drama to me - is it edited in weird way or something?

    1. It's that some of the scenes just feel bizarre, especially for a Paul Thomas Anderson film.

  3. I love Paul Thomas Anderson, he can do no wrong in my eyes; Magnolia, There will be blood and Boogie Nights are all on my favorites list! I can't wait to see this one, I keep hearing split reviews about it, but most seem to agree it is very intriguing, and that is always a good thing! Great review!


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