Mike N’s review published on Letterboxd:
After revisiting There Will Be Blood I felt the sudden urge to give The Master another watch, and the second time around I was just as enthralled as I was the first, maybe a bit more so.
Damaged or troubled characters are a common theme in Paul Thomas Anderson films and with Freddie Quell we are presented with perhaps his most troubled character yet. A navy veteran that can't function in a post-war society, he wanders across a religious movement named 'The Cause' and its charismatic leader, Lancaster Dodd. The Master mainly focuses on the relationship between Quell and Dodd and The Causes' attempts to 'cure' Freddie by giving him a sense of belonging, while also exploring the themes behind religious movemements. What's so great is that while Freddie is a troubled character, he's not alone - Dodd, while an expert at putting on a visage, faces his own problems as well. The Master is quite light on plot but to me this isn't an issue as it makes way for fascinating interactions and the exploration of the human mind and how it is influenced. The dialogue is exceptional and countless times I found myself completely sucked into it, oblivious to my surroundings.
Joaquin Phoenix gives the best performance of his career and he is complemented superbly by the always excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman. As with previous PTA films, the characters are played so well I almost get lost in thinking that they aren't acting - the processing scene blew me away on the first watch and it did the same thing the second time around, both actors put on a master-class of emotional acting. Phoenix's mannerisms couldn't be better as he captures the instability and unpredictability of Freddie Quell wonderfully, and who does frustrated rage better than Hoffman? PIG FUCK!
Anderson films are always a treat visually and The Master is definitely no exception to that rule, the blu-ray is probably the best looking one I own (and I own a lot), it's just so damn beautiful to look at and the 1950's time period is captured to perfection with sublime attention to detail.
Falls just short of the masterpiece that is There Will Be Blood, but it's still a stunning piece of work from a man that can seemingly do no wrong.
P.S Amy Adams talking dirty was totally hot