A 1950s-set drama centered on the relationship between a charismatic intellectual (Lancaster Dodd) known as "the Master" whose faith-based organization begins to catch on in America, and a young drifter (Freddie Quell) who becomes his right-hand man. After returning from the Second World War, having witnessed many horrors, Dodd creates a faith-based organization in an attempt to provide meaning to his life. He becomes known as "The Master". Freddie, his right-hand man, a former drifter, drifts through a series of PTSD-driven breakdowns. Finally he stumbles upon a cult which engages in exercises to clear the emotions. He becomes deeply involved with them, and begins to question both the belief system and The Master as the organization grows and gains a fervent following.
First of all I decided to watch this film as part of the 2013 best actor/supporting actor category and well I got what I came for. Joaquin Phoenix's performance is breathtaking,and probably his best yet.From the moment I was introduced to his character I was blown away at how he had immersed himself completely in the deranged vessel of Freddie Quell. Philip Seymour Hoffman once again gives an Oscar worthy performance as ''The Master'',the leader of a mysterious globe trotting cult,who takes Freddie under his wing.
The film as a whole though is weak at the hinges,a two and a half hour film that many will feel could have been cut down to two hours. The overall theme is understandably bleak and depressing but one would feel that the odd light hearted moment would not have gone amiss.
My final verdict is: If you are a fan of powerful acting or have a passing interest in the profession,then you will be enthralled by the two main performers in this picture.If you are the average movie go-er then this is probably one to avoid.
Thanks for reading.
I squirmed with embarrassment throughout this movie. It was simply horrible. The story was unfathomable and pointless. Everyone came out asking what was it all about.Regardless of how good the actors were they couldn't save this movie.I wanted to shoot myself after thirty minutes but kept hoping it would get better but it got worse.
Masterful, brilliant performances imbue this torturous saga of self-discovery; a struggle to chastise demons, doubts, destroying one's mental, psychological, physical path to health and inner peace.
Joaquin Phoenix, in a role, likely never to be repeated, is "Freddie Quell" suffering from post-traumatic–stress-disorder, largely undiagnosed after World War II; a veteran of the Pacific front, he is a misfit, volatile, alcoholic, working as a department store photographer in 1950. Phoenix in his every gesture, smile, walk is frightening, illuminating in depicting Freddie's paranoia and combustibility; he shrinks, getting thinner, skeletal as as his psychosis deepens throughout the film.
Philip Seymour Hoffman's genius portrayal as "The Master" "Lancaster Dodd" is incredulous. From the moment he meets "Freddie" who in a drunken stupor, has stowed away on a boat taking Dodd's family to New York; his hypnotic powers are electrifying, captivating; he cultivates the relationship with insouciant charm and a will of steel. Freddie and "The Master" develop a bond that is more than Svengali and protégée, it is a pairing that feeds off each other; a yin and yang so addictive that ideology cannot cure the craving. Unforgettable scene, of exorcism proportions has Freddie, with eyes closed, going back and forth from wall to window, describing what he feels; Dodd orchestrates the endless, painful cleansing until Freddie and the audience scream "enough".
Dodd is master of "The Cause", leading with a messianic drive and hypnosis, a core of dedicated disciples (vaguely referencing Scientology), who find meaning by time-travel, sometimes receding thousands of years, to unearth the "self" buried under layers of obfuscation. Dodd is mesmerizing, irresistible, his lectures a divine combination of levity, laughter and wisdom. Whether a charlatan or genuine there is no denying his craftsmanship.
Amy Adams gives a chilling performance as Peggy Dodd (most likely the third wife); she will suffer no indiscretions and her gentleness masks a woman of substance and power.
Emotionally pulverizing this is not a film for those looking for escape from the trauma of everyday life. Director Paul Thomas Anderson bulldozes boundaries and gifts viewers two memorable characters; flawed, human, ultimately imprisoned in their own minds, wills.
THREE STARS & 1/2 STARS!!!
Sad that two great actors of our time were convinced to participate in what can only be considered "The Emperor's New Clothes". They are great actors and that came out in the movie, again as it does in most of their movies, but why make this one in the first place? Horrible, boring, I was embarrassed that I didn't have the good sense to walk out! Of course with the actors you kept thinking it would turn, or there would be a point. I agree with "Lisa1965" in the other review. Do NOT waste your time or give them your money. It deserves NO STARS....Dont' even watch it on cable when it comes out for free!
The WORST movie I have ever seen. It is about 2 hours too long and horribly boring. There were several people that actually left after 30 minutes. I kept waiting for a point or a purpose or something to happen. I waited 2 1/2 hours and nothing ever happened. If we weren't there with friends we would have left after 30 minutes. Don't waste your money or your time!
I would have given no stars if I could!