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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 5.56%
Average: 33.33%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 16.67%

2 reviews, 6 user ratings

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Master, The (2012)
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by Greg Ursic

"Not as Masterful as you might expect."
3 stars

Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) is the penultimate loser; obsessed with sex, given to extreme outbursts of rage and an incorrigible alcoholic who will drink anything that provides a buzz. When he’s discharged from the service at the end of WW II he goes into a tailspin, wandering from job to job. One night while in a drunken stupor, he stumbles aboard a yacht and wakes up at sea, where he meets the soft spoken Lancaster (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) aka “The Master” who overseas “The Cause”, a movement that promises to help its adherents see things clearly. Lancaster takes Freddie under his wing, in what proves to be the beginning of a tumultuous relationship.

There has been a lot of buzz about The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film. Undoubtedly that has a lot to do with earlier successes like “Boogie Nights” and “There Will Be Blood” as well as the talented cast he’s assembled. This time however, the subject matter also plays a role: while it is never spelled out in so many words there’s no denying the similarities between “The Cause” and “Scientology” - a charismatic leader who runs a secret organization that helps people reach their full potential by healing the pain they’ve experienced in past lives, and spends much of his time at sea. Aside from the rhetoric, Hoffman also bears a striking resemblance to L. Ron Hubbard (hopefully that’s not grounds for a lawsuit…)

With its rich palette, meticulous cinematography and soothing score, The Master looks and sounds great (although it was a bit too loud at times), but it’s the acting that will keep you in your seat. Phoenix’s Freddie is wonderfully rendered as a roiling cauldron of emotion and s you’re never sure when he’s going to snap. But it is Hoffman’s masterful portrayal of Langdon who succeeds in keeping you on the edge; normally a sea of calm, when he explodes it’s all the more jarring, and keeps you on the edge. The inexplicable chemistry between the two, which has a

homoerotic bent to it, is likewise intriguing. Amy Adams also deserves credit for her wonderfully nuanced performance as Langdon’s wife, and there are subtle hints that she might also wield considerably more power over her husband than she’s given credit for. But The Master isn’t perfect.

While central to the story, Anderson spends far too much time dwelling on Freddie’s drinking and it begins to feel repetitious, the plot has a definite tendency to wander, it is deliberately paced (read: slow as molasses in December) and you never really appreciate why the duo stays together as long as they do. More importantly, with 137 minute runtime, it’s a good twenty minutes too long.

Anderson fans will no doubt be enraptured, but if you're looking for an entertaining movie, this probably isn't the one for you.

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originally posted: 09/29/12 06:52:20
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 69th Venice Film Festival For more in the 69th Venice Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/13/13 Turner Great acting but terrible film. No sense of structure or where it wants to go. 1 stars
4/02/13 David Hollingsworth uncomfortable, eerie, but brilliant character study 5 stars
3/13/13 gc unintersetinga nd dull character study of a perverted alcoholic, not about L.Ron H. either 1 stars
2/20/13 Langano Watching paint dry would have been more interesting than this film 1 stars
10/02/12 scott maxwell real good movie 5 stars
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  14-Sep-2012 (R)
  DVD: 26-Feb-2013


  DVD: 26-Feb-2013

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