Ian Curran’s review published on Letterboxd:
”You poisoned him.”
Much like in There Will Be Blood, PTA manages to explore defining aspects of the 21st century in The Master by stepping back in time to the 20th century.
Instead of greed, capitalism, and indifference to others, The Master explores the sense of disillusionment which continues to echo from the Great Recession of 08’.
It’s more than an exploration of Scientology, in fact, Scientology seems less relevant to the story with every passing year. What The Master shows us is the steady process of being hallowed out spiritually, and the readiness of others to exploit our emptiness.
Joaquin Phoenix, in arguably his greatest performance, plays a man slowly spiralling down the rungs of civilian life. He is a mumbling and unknowable character, it feels like one or both of his eyes are constantly hidden behind shadows.
The symbolism of The Master is truly amazing. The references to dogs and animals and leashes all speak to metaphors about control and influence. The ever present use of turquoise— a symbol of wisdom and tranquility—feels mocking of our two male leads and their burgeoning relationship.
The Master, a 20th century story of post war disillusionment, is the perfect allegory for 21st century nihilism, and the demagoguery and nationalism that continues to exploit it.