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The Master: Long Review

Posted by Kenneth Shinozuka on October 27, 2012 at 12:00 PM


Hello everyone,

My latest review needed a longer length in order to illuminate all the outstanding aspects I found of the film. Thank you all so much for your patience!

The Master

Released  Friday, September 14, 2012

Starring  Joaquin Phoenix (as Freddie Quell), Philip Seymour Hoffman (as Lancaster Dodd), Amy Adams (as Peggy Dodd), Laura Dern (as Helen Sullivan), Ambyr Childers (as Elizabeth Dodd), Jesse Plemons (as Val Dodd)

Director  Paul Thomas Anderson

Screenwriter  Paul Thomas Anderson

Runtime  143 minutes

Rating  R for sexual content, explicit nudity, and language


    out of 100

The Masterpiece

Posted Saturday, October 27, 2012

The greatest films reveal human nature through insightfully drawn characters and thematic plots illustrated with a vivid emotional palette. In harmonizing with these criterion for mastery, Paul Thomas Anderson's fifth opus "The Master" resonates as a swirling symphony conducted with powerful direction, composed with resounding depth, and performed by a passionate orchestra of incredible actors.

This penetrating philosophical commentary illuminates a number of ideas on human relationships through the complexity of its characters, the most significant of which is Freddie Quell. In the aftermath of a traumatic Second World War, Freddie drifts from one temporary job to another with a vacant mind and a soul imprisoned by the psychological and psychosexual problems of his past. Drunk one lonely night, Freddie stumbles into the ship of Lancaster Dodd, a megalomaniac who welcomes Freddie into his religiously questionable cult, known as “The Cause.” Their first dialogue, in which Freddie divulges the darkest secrets of his past to an understanding Dodd, weaves motifs of sexuality and desire while also demonstrating a wide spectrum of profound emotion that will pierce the deepest fragments of the soul. Dodd and Freddie develop a close father-and-son relationship that remains vividly real, if at times unstable, because of the power of the actors who perform them. In one of the best incarnations of the year, actor Joaquin Phoenix breathes life into Freddie’s tumultuous emotions with a blank passion and a subtle conviction. Philip Seymour Hoffman imbues an air of pompous spirit into his darkly captivating embodiment of Dodd, vivifying the monstrous indulgence and fraudulence veiled by his character’s apparent benevolence. A third character, Dodd’s wife, Peggy, is performed by Amy Adams with a taut ferocity that captures her character’s dominance over her husband’s cult, and moreover, his fragile soul. Dodd and these two most devoted followers shape a compelling triangle of characters whose various relationships highlight their endlessly complex dimensionality and the mastery – no pun intended – of the actors who embody them. The skill of these performances lies in their ability to establish an emotional connection between the audience and such seemingly unrelatable characters, touching our own deepest desires and yearnings with theirs.

The vast canvas of the plot pursues a number of themes that Anderson illustrates with symbolic visual and cinematic strokes. Several incredibly profound parallels seamlessly interlace seemingly disparate scenes and exhibit Freddie’s development from confusion to self-discovery. Mihai Malamaire Jr.’s sweeping tapestries of ocean and horizon, accompanied by Jonny Greenwood’s alternatingly cacophonous and harmonic score, symbolize an ephemeral freedom and a lasting content that Freddie loses, searches for and eventually seizes. Even the most perspicacious of audiences may not understand the subtlety behind Anderson’s incredibly profound parallels at first, but when all the notes are assembled together on the gorgeous 70 mm film, the result strikes a euphony of transporting and utterly mesmerizing beauty. Confounding but dazzling, Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece transcends intricate characterization and symbolic storytelling to arouse the deepest of emotions within its hypnotized audience. 89/100

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Reply Mrs. Atlee
11:09 PM on October 27, 2012 
You liked this movie more than I did, Kenneth, but I thought Joaquin Phoenix was at the top of his game. His performance, including body language, was outstanding. Does and Oscar nomination lie ahead in his future?
Reply Kenneth Shinozuka
11:20 PM on October 27, 2012 
I think not only an Oscar nomination, but perhaps an Oscar win.

Mrs. Atlee says...
You liked this movie more than I did, Kenneth, but I thought Joaquin Phoenix was at the top of his game. His performance, including body language, was outstanding. Does and Oscar nomination lie ahead in his future?