YI JIAN’s review published on Letterboxd:
Close your eyes.
Recall a word.
The restless ocean that looks so calm from afar, like Freddy Quell who mumbles his sentences as he speaks but upon closer inspection, has a tremendous amount of energy balled up inside him ready to be released, a nuclear core of a human being.
What do you hear?
Two drunk men talking to each other. One asks the questions and the other one answers. That's it. No flashy camera movements, no breathtaking scenery. Paul Thomas Anderson used only a conversation, close-ups and some over the shoulder shots to craft one of the best scenes of all time.
Recall a word. Any word.
Two masters, in fact. Joaquin Pheonix's face crumples and releases, crumples and releases, then a burst of laughter, followed by a single tear. Philip Seymour Hoffman stares straight into his eyes, solid as a rock, mouth shooting words without blinking. It's magical, just pure cinematic wonder, watching them bond over such a short period of time.
Who's saying "Master"?
When asked to fight in a jail cell they scream their hearts out, they break toilets. When asked to embrace they wrestle on the ground. When asked to bid farewell they sing and cry. The duo are not only able to work flawlessly as an individual, but can also work together as a team, flushing all sorts of energy and emotions out of each other. I am astoundingly in love.
Release and return to me.
Open your eyes.