The Master (2012)


“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.” – Lancaster Dodd

Number of Times Seen – Twice (3 Feb 2013 and 2 Nov 2018)

Brief Synopsis – A former GI while trying to find his place in the world after returning home from World War II happens upon a religious leader who might have the answers he is seeking.

My Take on it – The idea presented in this film is actually an interesting one especially when dealing with how war can affect a returning soldier who is trying to find a place in the wold despite with bouts of anger.

Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman both give very powerful performances here even if the story itself loses its way numerous times along the way.

The film has a great message that can be seen from numerous perspectives yet gets too existential like most Paul Thomas Anderson films tend to do which takes away from much of the coherency of it all and just makes a mess of this idea..

The story comes across as being too morose and the lack of a really cathartic experience make things much less interesting than they would have been had their been some real resolution here.

The lack of real focus in the story hurts any impact it might have had.

Bottom Line – Interesting film that shows the effects of war on a soldier as he tries to find his way in the world. Phoenix and Hoffman are both quite powerful here even if the story loses its way too often.  The message of the film can be seen from various levels and gets a bit too existential like all of Anderson’s films do.  Unfortunately, things are too morose and this story isn’t cathartic in any way because that would have made this a bit more interesting. Overall, this is a mess due to lack of real focus.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia #1 – Paul Thomas Anderson has acknowledged that L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology served as partial basis for the character of Lancaster Dodd and his cult, “The Cause.” This revelation sparked much discussion in the press, as the Church of Scientology has a long history of litigation against critics of Hubbard. Though the Church released no official comment on the film, Anderson claims that when he screened the film for his friend Tom Cruise, an outspoken Scientology advocate, Cruise erupted with anger, specifically objecting to scenes where Dodd’s son Val admits that Dodd made up the tenets of “The Cause,” which parallels real-life admissions by Hubbard’s son. Anderson has admitted to a heated exchange with Cruise, though both the actor and director have kept details of their argument, and the outcome private.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia #2 – Philip Seymour Hoffman had his first drink in 23 years at the wrap party for this film, leading to a relapse of his alcoholism. (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy (6/10)

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3 thoughts on “The Master (2012)

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