The Master

The Master ★★★★★

I return to scenes from this movie more than any other. The Master is a gift that keeps on giving. The prime attractions for me are the absolutely gorgeous 65mm shots, with its warmly saturated color palette and wonderful compositions, and the infinite allure of Freddie Quell. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance makes Freddie a character that moves me deeply. I see so much of myself in him – the same pains, the same driving forces, impulses, wandering, the desire to latch onto people who care about yourself.

PTA masterfully constructs every element of this movie. The soundtrack is so unique, and the velvety jazz songs enrich my soul. (“Get Thee Behind Me Satan” is a perfect song choice.) On my second viewing, I found myself better able to understand how all the scenes fit together, of course, but what I am increasingly becoming sure of is the incredible rewatch-ability of The Master. There is much to appreciate about the themes of codependent relationships, religion, power struggle, family and belonging, postwar trauma, and free will and imprisonment and delusion. But we don’t need any of that to enjoy the movie. Because after all, The Master is about the characters. It is most rewarding when we sit back and witness Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman put on great performances of these imperfect and yearning men. That is strong enough to pull me back into this wonderful work again and again.

This film is such a gem, such an oddity, so beautiful and soulful, and I want to experience it so many more times.

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