This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Zachary⚡’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Part of The Top 100 Directors’ Club Created by Ellster 2005, Film #3 of PTA Series; The Master
Phoenix beating up some people just for disrespecting the religion, is basically a retelling of the infamous "clan wars" that occurred on 2016 over the monumental film Batman Vs. Superman. You didn't like it, well too bad! Here is a punch and a slap. This film is so relate-able.
The Master is masterfully done. No surprise really for me, given that PTA is a strong director. I placed spoilers, because I need to. If you have not seen The Master, do not CONTINUE.
Basically, I thought that The Master tells how certain people have the ability to cling to certain ideologies, and the affect this has on them. They have motives, mostly fueled by emotions. And that is what The Master is about: emotions. How can society, systems, and ideologies control the emotions of these certain people. I find it ironic that Freddie has been rejected by two systems in the film: the Cause and normal society.
Normal society has abhorred him initially, due to his cold and very "messed up" nature. He's misogynistic, cruel, and extremely egotistical. When The Cause accepts him, the main reason why he clings onto to them, is extremely multi-faceted. The Cause eradicates his animalistic tendencies, and changes him into something different from who he once was. Very different. So far, that he is not even able to assimilate back into normal society. It's devastating. You still hear him mutter the same words Dodd told him. The questions, the periodic and formulaic interrogation, while in bed with someone else. And where does he end up: lost again. Frankly, it's cold to how these systems reject him and affect him in the end. And that is what this film is about, to me: how systems, ideologies, and societies affect the psyche and identity of a person, proving that identities are more determined by the environment. To me, the film is articulating how identities are not independent and are conformed by society. It rejects nature, and proposes nurture. This does not mean you cannot appreciate the film, if you believe in "nature". It's definitely a broad film that is open to interpretation. And that is something I have to appreciate about it. It's broad, and compensates for this complexity by being well-crafted.
The camera glides. There are so many impressive one-shots. The framing is spectacular, the images are beautiful. It was as if I can place one of the frames in the film, as my profile picture. There were so many instances where I was like,
hey, that would be a great picture for my profile
Every scene never failed to impress me, from a visual standpoint.
And apart from being visually gorgeous, the way PTA presented each scene, without coming off as sentimentally forceful, is frankly magnificent. There is a lot of serious subject matter being discussed in the film, and PTA understands and uses these subject matters so well, that it never came off as un-realistic. This was all due to how brilliantly PTA presented each scene: he made the film come off as natural and convincing by visually presenting each scene with so much confidence.
The cast was perfect. Each performance was so well-layered. Even if a character was not rigorously developed, their performances added so many layers to the character. There is a character who hardly says a word (I think this guy has three lines of dialogue) and his motives and his arc were extremely clear and affecting to the film due to his subtle mannerisms. At the heart of this film, is a character drama, and spectating each character as their respective actors act with one another, is sensational. It was as if I was watching a 4-hour long epic that took it's time to develop each character. The amount of accomplishments in acting and character development this film has, given the run-time, is phenomenal.
And apart from the overall craft that is accomplished in the film, this movie was affecting and disorienting. I pitied the main character, I was depressed: but most of all, I was absorbed and engaged into this beautiful portrait of post-war America. PTA does that best: he absorbs me into a world. And that's all I ever want from movies.
Punch Drunk-Love is my favorite, and I am debating whether or not The Master or There Will Be Blood is his best film. Honestly, this director has impressed and I hope Inherent Vice is not garbage like some say. The last film in this series will most likely be There Will Be Blood. If I cannot re-watch, I’ll log it.