Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

The Master


The Master is the latest film to reach the heights of pretentious film-making. It’s the story of two men who come together; one is a traumatized war vet, the other the leader of a new-found cult movement. It’s a story about the relationship between these men. It’s a story about a man’s search for meaning in existence. It’s a film about temptation. Or perhaps its just Paul Thomas Anderson blowing smoke.

The Master was not an enjoyable movie to watch. It felt like there were gaps all throughout the narrative, pieced together by some mumbling exposition by the Leads. Now while I appreciate that Anderson didn’t feel like he needed to hold the audiences hand through the story, I still hated the way he chose to do it. There was a cold distance to this movie which not only made it difficult to follow the context, but also made it very difficult to actually care about what was happening.

A lot has been said about the two lead performances by Juaquim Phoenix as Freddie Quell and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodds. And they are indeed good. Hoffman demands the sort of presence that a cult leader needs while Juaquim plays his character as off-the-rails and possibly insane to his core. I also really appreciated the cinematography. The framing of shots was quite interesting, such as when the frame is slit in half by the boat railing. So this movie is not without its strengths.

But ultimately I finished this film still not caring about the characters and wondering what the point of it all was. Because lets face it; the characters pretty much end off in the same point they started. Now, I’m not so obtuse that I don’t notice the themes running throughout the film. Faith and spirituality, the temptation of sex, perhaps even a father-son relationship (though I actually feel like the relationship was under-explored, especially on Dodds’ part). And I sure that on repeat viewings these themes could be studied and analyzed a lot further. However, the first viewing has left me with absolutely no desire to ever revisit this The Master again.

10 Responses to “The Master”

  1. Reblogged this on Flocus Studios and commented:
    The Master is an awesome movie. Definitely recommend! šŸ™‚

  2. Agreed! The Master was genuinely an incredible film šŸ™‚

  3. Nice review. I disagree, I thought this was a great movie and picked it as the best film of 2012. It deserves repeat viewings to fully appreciate.

    • Yeah, I know I’m fighting an uphill battle with this one. I got the sense that a repeat may allow one to find more, but I despised it so much, I don’t want to subject myself to another viewing when there are other movies to watch.

  4. I’m not going to lie, it’s a crazy movie, but at least it’s one that kept me involved, intrigued, and interested the whole, damn time. The three I’s are what always count for me. Good review man.

  5. I agree with you in your thoughts and failed to see the purpose of so much in the film aside from Anderson’s style of direction and to show off the actors’ abilities. I gave it a lower score than you actually.

  6. LOL. I completely disagree, I found it fascinating, and I do think the characters change… I also think (as you say) there’s a lot of potential for deeper analysis, which I can appreciate.

    That said, I can understand your point of view… and it made me laugh hearing you be so blunt abut it šŸ˜€

  7. Great review…but I still love this film šŸ˜›

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