The Master

The Master ★★★★★

Freddie Quell: ''What do you do?''

Lancaster Dodd: ''I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist and a theoretical philosopher. But above all, I am a man, a hopelessly inquisitive man, just like you.''

PTA's most challenging, and probably finest work. Was a bit overwhelmed, to be honest, and I'm going to be contemplating & reading about it for a while... but briefly: It works as a superb allegory of the id, ego & superego (each represented by Phoenix, Hoffman and Adams, respectively)... a commentary on post-war psyche... a critique of religion/cults... etc. (meaning I don't know what else at the moment, heh, but there's definitely more to discover, I'm sure). It features three brilliant performances from Joaquin Phoenix (an absolute tour de force piece of acting; his portrayal of the raw, animalistic nature that represents the id -- fuck, fight, fuck, fight -- recalls Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, a film which coincidentally also has a bit of a Freudian thematic going on, or even De Niro in Raging Bull. In years to come, it will be viewed as a benchmark in acting, and one of the best of all time), Philip Seymour Hoffman (finally getting a lead role in a PTA film, and as mentioned, in the form of the ego, or ''enlightened'' self) and Amy Adams (to be redundant one last time; the superego, who conditions Hoffman's character - and is the true master... the scene where she performs a handjob on Hoffman's Lancaster Dodd best epitomizes this). Stunning cinematography, too; one of the most gorgeous I've seen in fact. Mesmerizing score as well, and, man, that soundtrack is used to almost delirious effect. And finally, though it kinda goes without saying, there's PTA's exceptional direction (impressive shot framing/juxtapositions, tracking shots, close-ups... you know the deal). If it weren't for the somewhat confusing plot arrangement, I'd say this was pretty much flawless. Definitely one of the greatest of 2012.

Lancaster Dodd: ''If you figure a way to live without serving a master, any master, then let the rest of us know, will you? For you'd be the first person in the history of the world.''

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