The Master

The Master ★★★★½

The return of Paul Thomas Anderson after 5 long years.

Anderson's work as a director is some of the few that exists in modern cinema that still challenges its audience and forces them to think and interpret the film for themselves. This is pure bravery for a director to do as the result could be extremely unpredictable in the reactions of its audience. But for Anderson it feels right and it works every time.

The Master is not Anderson's best film, his style has drastically changed, the story is not seamless in the least and the cinematography not as fluid as with his old cinematographer Robert Elswit. Yet still this film contends and for now holds the place as the best film released so far this year. The Master is a film whose story may not be so easily constructed or well pieced together, but the overall themes and personal interpretations of its viewers create a philosophy all of its own. Maybe its the fact that I personally am a atheist but the main theme I received from The Master was that the undeniable human instinct to search for the truth will expose and become the undoing (as Amy Adams brilliant portrayal of Peggy Dodd suggests) of every major religious organization on this planet. See many people may have this similar interpretation as I with the exception of myself taking it further and including all religions rather than just narrowing it down to only Scientology like faith based organizations.

As Anderson has done so many times before with his actors, pulling out career best performances and a couple that will stand the test of time he has done so again here. Walhberg's best was in Boogie Nights, Reilly, Moore and Cruise were in Magnolia, Sandler's best was in Punch Drunk Love. It is really hard to argue these points besides maybe Julianne Moore who is such a wonderful actress, one may prefer one role over another for her. Of the two performances that I am certain will stand the test of time are that of Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood and here this year with Joaquin Phoenix in The Master. Phoenix's performance was a revelation and a complete embodiment of his character, It was powerful as it was spell binding and I can assure you that The Master would not have been the same without him. As much as someone could applaud Anderson for the success of this film, I will throw more of the credit in the direction of Phoenix. He is destined for all of the awards this year just as Day Lewis did back in 07'. Let's not forget Hoffman in all of this, for he was not overshadowed. Hoffman was almost unrecognizable in his performance and also played it flawlessly. You could not believe it was the same actor as say in such films as Capote, Before The Devil Knows Your Dead, Magnolia, or even better yet take a look at Hoffman as Scotty J. in Anderson's other film Boogie Nights. Hoffman has as much range in his acting abilities as the likes of Brando and Day-Lewis and other method actors.

The Master as well crafted and sculpted by the auteur as it was, (cinematography and score also playing a big role here as in his previous film There Will Be Blood) it really is the acting that everyone should go see this film for. One of my favorite scenes in the movie and probably out of all of Anderson's films is the one of the first processing interviews between Lancaster Dodd and Freddie Quell on the yacht. Here we witness as natural as it could be the revealing of a man with buried truths being resurfaced by a psychoanalytic activity created by Dodd. This sort of process is more Freudian than it is faith based and the reaction received by Quell is one of devastating proportions. Also with its many sexual elements contrasted to the human psyche The Master truly does carry a strong Freudian influence as it does one of Scientology.

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