The Master (2012)

The Master
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Jesse Plemons, Ambyr Childers, Rami Malek, Joshua Close, Laura Dern

Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) has returned from serving in the navy in WW2, but the war has left him in pieces. Now he drifts from job to job, fueled by home-brewed alcohol. By chance he stumbles upon Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a self-made and rather successful cult leader of The Cause. Dodd, or Master as he is also called, and his wife Peggy (Amy Adams) take Freddie in, hoping to cure him and Freddie falls head first into The Cause.

The Master is an intriguing piece of cinema. It’s unusual in the way it tells its story and perfectly acted, even if it does run a tad too long. But to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what to do with it.


It’s not that I don’t understand what’s going on in the film. And it’s not that I didn’t enjoy it. But I left the film thinking, “well, now I’ve seen it. But what do I take away from it?” It’s a little weird, no doubt about it. And by that I mean my reaction, not the film, though that is certainly true as well.

But no matter from my personal (non-)take away of the film, it was fantastically made. It looked absolutely gorgeous – great camera work and awesome costumes (it was brilliant how Freddie’s suits alone already expressed his entire discomfort with himself and everything). And this scene where Freddie turns Peggy’s eyes black gave me goosebumps.


And the cast… of course, nothing less was to be expected by any of them, but they were absolutely brilliant. Joaquin Phoenic dials up his usual intensity (I wouldn’t have thought it possible), Philip Seymour Hoffman is amazingly charismatic and the two of them really have an amazing chemistry. But I also loved Amy Adams who was brilliant as well.

The script is about as hypnotic as the Master’s practices – and equally absurd sometimes. And I loved the little spat he had with my own personal hero, John More (Christopher Evan Welch). But, maybe due to my lack of connection with the film, it just ran a little long, despite its excellence. Sometimes it just puzzled me a little too much.


Summarising: too long, but very worth it.

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