The Master

The Master ★★★★★

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.

No idea where I can even start with The Master, other than saying two things. First, it's the most uncomfortable a film has ever made me. I almost turned it off after that prolonged "processing" sequence about a third through. It wasn't because I disliked the movie. The complete opposite. It was affecting me in a way very, very few films have. That specific sequence is one of the best pieces of filmmaking I have ever seen, and the acting we get from both Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is impossibly brilliant. I felt like I wanted to break down, but my body wouldn't allow it.

Second, as a whole, this is the most a film has affected me personally since Eyes Wide Shut and Happy Together. And like those movies, I am for now at a relative loss of words as to why it had this strong of an effect. It's perfectly crafted, that's absolutely certain. The cinematography and the score? Brilliance. But the way it conveys the darkest and weakest aspects of humanity? Sexuality, anger, loneliness. It's a lot to have to take in. It's all a terribly lonely experience, something it shares in common with Eyes Wide Shut. They would make a great double feature if I believed anyone on this Earth could possibly mentally handle watching those two movies back to back. And I don't.

For now, that's about all I can muster to say about it. The Master is not a movie every individual is going to get into, much less have it impact them as instantaneously as it did myself. I'm surely not the first person to make this joke, but this movie puts the "master" in "masterpiece." It's nice to make a joke. Laughter. One of the few things we have that can distract us from the horrid reality that every decision we make is ours and ours alone. We attach ourselves to mentors, masters, to make us believe otherwise. Man is condemned to be free.


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