Braindead’s review published on Letterboxd:
Wow, what a film, watched it last night, but I needed to digest it a little more to make a review. The Master is probably the most ambiguous film I have seen in a while, and it has obviously led to a lot of confusion. And no, I can't say that I have fully understand it, but here are my thougts:
I can't help myself but to see some similarities between aspects of the film and Freud's theories. In the film, Phoenix can work as the "Ego" and Hoffman as the "Super-Ego" that masters him. And not only that, but as we know, Freddie hasn't be in touch with his parents for a long time (they might be dead, I don't remember if he mentions it), so Lancaster and Peggy might work as father-mother figure for Freddie. Furthermore, Freud's theory implies that the super-ego is a symbolic internalisation of the father figure, so Hoffman might indeed work as a metaphor for Freddie's Super-Ego.
And in the other hand we have Peggy, who Freddie seems to love as a mother, but also desires sexually (incest). This is also implied with the sand figure that Freddie "fucks" but that also loves and cuddles with. And we should also notice that this scene takes place in the beach, near the sea; (for those who don't know, the water element is often related with women and fertility.)
Freud says that we all want to fuck our mothers and kill our fathers, Freddie doesn't do either, but he clearly desires Peggy and he has already fucked a family member in the past, and although he doesn't kill Lancaster, he does kill (or at least poisons) one of the farmers, that in Freddie's words "looks like his father".
HOWEVER, my argument is probably flawed and I'm watching too much into this, like Lucas said I may have gone too far in a few places (youtu.be/fIWKMgJs_Gs#t=1m25s).
But there's something that I do want to make clear, leaving all this Freud stuff aside: like in There Will Be Blood, P.T.A speaks about a man, a person. And about how he choose to interact with people and society. We, the human beings, have the power to control and make the decisions in our life, we can be assholes or helpful, mastered or masters, believe in something or not, be alone or be part of a group, forgive or not. In There Will Be Blood, Plainview doesn't forgive Eli and H.W, and everything ends wrong, "I'm finished" he says. In The Master, Lancaster doesn't forgive Freddie, and everything is left open to the viewer. Is Freddie happy? He seem to become a new master, but he still dreams with that sand figure, he still dreams about finding love.
And amazing acting by the way. I'm not a big fan of Hoffman myself, but I do love some Phoenix, (I'm Still Here (2010) is terribly underrated), and the film has an amazing score by Greenwood. With this and There Will Be Blood P.T.A has proved that he is someone to keep in mind, although like in Magnolia, there are some pacing issues.