Andy Ferguson’s review published on Letterboxd:
If you're a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson (I really don't see how you can't be if you truly love unique cinema) then there should be absolutely no reason you can't find many things to admire about his latest epic, The Master.
I've read some negative comments on the movie that basically said that although the performances, cinematography, and direction are all top-notch, the movie still left them bewildered and empty. I'm not sure that I really understand the low ratings if that is the only knock on the movie. Yes, I can understand the confusing and bewildering feeling that the movie places upon its viewer - and maybe even leaves us that way - but I found that to be one of the most compelling things about it. I go into a P.T. Anderson movie with the expectation of being thrust into a dark, sometimes disturbing and unsettling odyssey, and The Master is another example of him further pushing himself into the ranks of this country's finest and most daring directors.
This is a movie to see multiple times, and for many reasons. I think those who are quick to give it a negative review simply aren't willing to let the experience sit with them and simmer in the mind. The content here really requires rumination of thoughts and another viewing before judgment. I know I love it, but it will only be after several watches that I know just how much.
Another reason I am anticipating going back to see it again and again is the downright OUTSTANDING performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I can say without a doubt that this is the single most triumphant performance of Phoenix's career and should earn him awards across the board. It's hard to say where this ranks among Hoffman's list of brilliant performances, but it's amazing to see him at work here in another smashing collaboration with his favorite director.
I was enthralled by it all. Even if you think you might not be interested in the content, you still MUST see this film if you are a fan of challenging pieces of work, and simply because you have to witness the greatest acting in a long, long time. This is not just actor's immersing themselves into characters, it's them actually becoming then.