Jonathan White’s review published on Letterboxd:
TIFF ’12 - THE MASTER
Director P.T. Anderson’s latest, and follow up to 2007’s There Will Be Blood. I’ll start off by saying that I’m a big fan of most of Andersons films, starting with 1996’s Hard Eight (Sydney). I think There Will Be Blood is a true masterpiece.
It’s worth mentioning that The Master was shot in 70mm ( well, 65mm for the purists ), and the premier at the Princess Of Wales was presented in 70mm. ( no mean feat .. I’m sure there was quite a bit of work finding a pair of operational 70mm projectors, and re-outfitting the booth ). The image looked gorgeous. Deep and rich and vibrant as only 70mm can look. I did find it odd that it was hard matted to 1.85:1 aspect ratio instead of the formats native 2.20:1. Probably because the new fangled digital projectors can’t handle anything other than 1.85 or 2.35, and a digital presentation is how virtually all but a few will see it.
Early reviews for The Master have been almost universally gushing and positive. Not so much for me. I felt like he was trying to channel There Will Be Blood with less successful results. Joaquin Phoenix’s character was basically two dimensional, with scenes of emotional outbursts and bad behavior thrown in for effect. Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s performance as The Master is more even, but, I didn’t find him to be convincingly magnetic and irresistible.. I just felt that other characters and plot devices were continuously ‘telling’ me that he was magnetic and irresistible. I also didn’t find Hoffman’s and Phoenix’s interactions convincing, or even rational. Amy Adam’s character, as Hoffman’s wife, seemed only to be there to dislike and distrust Phoenix’s character. Laura Dern’s ‘drunk the Kool-Aid’ character was the only one I found rung true for me. My take was it was supposed to be ‘An Irresistible Force meets and Immovable Object’ story .. but in the end I didn’t really care. I didn’t really Drink This Milkshake.