This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
anya’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I didn’t love this film. I could appreciate the beautiful and slick cinematography and the stellar performances, but the plot felt very distant and confusing to me. Joaquin phoenix as Freddie Quell was amazing, some of the best (if not the best) acting i've ever seen.
Freddie Quell was a very interesting character. I didn’t necessarily like him, but I felt as confused and insane as he was in this movie. Phoenix’s performance is just astounding, I cannot praise it enough. I can't really put it into words. His character, Freddie is so complicated and vile that 7ou cannot take your eyes off of him. I think that he is alone. When joining the cause he latches on to the master and won't let go. He is like a child in that way, and in others. He's irrational, immature and crazy. Freddie will attack anyone that dares to disagree with the master. In a way, he has some character development by the end when he goes away. He is infected with PTSD and addiction. He had no way to express any emotion or retrieve any memories before joining the cause. I think that is why he is so irrationally protective of the master, the master tried to help him. Even if it was in a strange cult-like scientology fashion. Freddie does not know how to deal with his trauma, and is very socially awkward. He has had inappropriate relations with his own aunt. He clarifies vaguely that this was caused by his drinking. “I was drunk, and she looked good”.
Quell has a distorted view on everyone, like everyone is out to get him. This is because of his childhood and experiences in the war. He had to be closed off in order to protect himself. He uses random mixes of alcohol and women to distract himself or numb his pain. Freddie’s PTSD comes out in ugly, violent ways. It's a little scary how real the character of Freddie Quell feels. It almost feels like I could possibly know someone who could become that…..