The Master

The Master ★★★★★

When the credits rolled, I was unsure of what to give it. I was unsure of what I thought, though three things were clear to me;

* Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, nor any of the other actors in the film, have never given better performances than they do here.

* Paul Thomas Anderson confirms here his ability to make art, joining Wes Anderson and Anton Corbijn in making films where every frame could be hung on a wall and admired.

* This film is going to stay with me for a long time.

After reading some reviews - both here on Letterboxd and AVClub's - I really cannot fathom that people think this film is empty. It is filled with complex characters and themes, yet it's never upfront about them, instead letting the audience draw their own conclusions, assign their own theories and thoughts. The film itself can be viewed as The Master himself, and you as the person he's trying to convince. What he's trying to convince you of? That is indeed the question you should be asking.

In some ways, this film is the anti-Cloud Atlas; instead of showing us the whole process of what our souls can/must go to in order to "turn" from bad to good, to redeem ourselves, The Master shows what this belief can do to you if you live like it in the now. It's unsettling and haunting, brought on by Anderson's excellent writing and masterful (sorry, couldn't resist) directing; he's never flashy, always subtle, making his characters speak and taking his time listening to them. With The Master he's created a powerful, interesting and beautiful film, with a creeping atmosphere and no easy answers. It might not be his best film yet - I struggle to find which is - but it damn well is his most assured work, perhaps ever.

I can't wait to see it again, to get under its skin and figure out what makes it tick, to see what meaning I might've only glanced before and to feel that haunting mood once more. If this isn't one of 2012's best film then I don't know what is.

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