The Master

The Master ★★★★★

Paul Thomas Anderson delivers yet another dizzyingly ambitious American epic with THE MASTER, a film of so many intriguing ambiguities and fascinating mysteries that I can't wait to watch it again to see what layers reveal themselves.

Joaquin Phoenix (Hand him the Oscar now. Right now.) plays Freddie Quell, a war veteran from a broken home who returns from the war adrift, with no future and few prospects, and almost certainly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He finds shelter, both literally and figuratively, in the Scientology-like religion presided over by the charismatic, L. Ron Hubbard-like Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The push/pull relationship between these two complementary characters over the course of (months? years?) form the basis of THE MASTER.

Both Phoenix and Hoffman are absolutely spellbinding, and worth the price of admission all by themselves. But as with all P.T. Anderson movies, there is so much more as well. The cinematography. The score. The editing. The elaborate set-pieces. The plentiful surprises in the narrative. Like all the best movies, there is so much to explore here, and I have a feeling that won't change no matter how many times I watch it.

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