The Master

"Excellent"

The Master Review


This jagged, meandering exploration of a Scientology-style movement is hauntingly mesmerising and packed with meaty performances. As he did in There Will Be Blood, writer-director Anderson is exploring how people control and influence each other, this time focussing on a twisted mentor-protege relationship that's strikingly well-played by Hoffman and Phoenix. 

The story takes place just after the war, as seaman Freddie Quells (Phoenix) struggles to overcome his physical and psychological injuries and fit back into society. After drifting across America, he stows away on a boat captained by Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman), who is known as the Master to followers of the Cause. He takes Freddie under his wing and coaches him to tap into his eternal soul by exploring who he was in past lives. So Freddie becomes part of the family with Dodd's strong-willed wife (Adams), doubtful son (Plemons) and more gung-ho daughter and son-in-law (Childers and Malek). And Freddie's stubbornness both annoys and challenges Dodd.

It's fascinating to watch these two men develop a tight connection while quietly jostling for power. The cycles of interaction make the film lurch in fits and starts as Freddie tries to elevate himself using Dodd's process, but continually finds another way all his own. In other words, both men are using each other to work out their own inner turmoil. While Hoffman gives a layered performance that bristles with quiet shadows and superficial bravado, Phoenix contorts his body and face into a man who has literally been crumpled up by his past. Meanwhile, the darkly intense Adams sneaks up and steals every scene she's in.

This is not a film to sit back and enjoy. It continually pokes us with pointed ideas that force us to think about who we are and how we approach our life. And in the film's central relationship, we ask big questions such as whether it's possible to save someone who doesn't know they need saving. Or if being told what to believe means that you don't actually have any faith. In the end, Anderson is a bit too cerebral to let us into his main point, but the film is such a bold, beautifully crafted work of art that we can't look away.

Rich Cline



The Master

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 144 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st September 2012

Box Office USA: $16.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $28.3M

Budget: $32M

Distributed by: The Weinstein Company

Production compaines: Annapurna Pictures, The Weinstein Company, Ghoulardi Film Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 191 Rotten: 33

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Freddie Quell, as Lancaster Dodd, as Mary Sue Dodd, as Helen, as Val Dodd, as Elizabeth Dodd, as Clark, as Doris Solstad, as Bill White, Patty McCormack as Mildred Drummond, as Mrs. Solstad, Barbara Brownell as Margaret O'Brien, as Martha the Salesgirl, Jennifer Neala Page as Winn Manchester, Christopher Evan Welch as John More, Mike Howard as Rorschach Doctor, Bruce Goodchild as V.A. Doctor / Interview, Frank Bettag as Frank, Mimi Cozzens as Chi Chi Crawford

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.