The Ron’s review published on Letterboxd:
"You're making this shit up! You make this shit up! You don't know what you're talking about!"
I'm going to start this review by showering this film with much deserved praise, then I'll tell you why it didn't quite become The Masterpiece for me.
I honestly don't think PTA could of gotten better performances out of the main characters in this film. Philip Seymour Hoffman has had a career of awards worthy performances and he's absolutely phenomenal here. He owns the character and is a tour d force onscreen. Joaquin Phoenix on the other hand has always been a good actor, but in this film he's a revelation. He plays his character perfectly, and I honestly don't think another actor could of played this role as flawlessly as Phoenix does. Hoffman's Lancaster Dodd and Phoenix's Freddie Quell are the driving forces in this film and they create cinema magic when onscreen together. The rest of the cast that also features Amy Adams in a strong supporting role are perfection as well.
I'm completely convinced after seeing this film that Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the greatest directors working today. I haven't seen all of his work, (yet) but what I have seen has been brilliant. The quality is so good in all of his work that I'd take no issue with someone calling The Master, There Will Be Blood, Punch Drunk Love, and Magnolia Masterpieces. Those pictures are all that good! The way this film is shot, the performances he gets out of the actors, the score, everything is near perfection. The cinematography is simply beautiful especially on blu-ray. I swear several shots had me open mouthed and drooling because they were so breathtaking and beautiful.
This is where The Master looses the half star and what keeps it from being a perfect 5 star film for me. I don't know if I'll explain it well, but there's just something missing, something in the narrative that isn't there. The story here really is the characters and how they interact with each other, but overall it never seems to go anywhere. Sure it progresses but it progresses in the characters themselves and their relationships not in a traditional story arc. Each scene was like a glimpse into these peoples lives, but none of it seemed to amount to anything by the end. I didn't get the sense there was much of a plot or even a point to what was going on.
In conclusion even with my slight issues with the story or lack of one this is a fantastic film and should of been nominated for best picture. The actors deserve every award they were nominated for and every award they won. PTA directs this film so masterfully, that my problems with the story are almost completely negated by the quality of every other aspect. It's a must see and I can't wait to finish his canon by watching Boogie Nights, Hard Eight, and whatever he does next.