User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 447 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 76 out of 447
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  1. Nov 21, 2012
    6
    Difficult and depressing. On the one hand, the acting is sensational - both Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are clearly amongst the greatest actors of their generation, and are absolutely compelling to watch. On the other hand, why put yourself through the trauma of watching horrible characters being horrible to each other and everybody else for about three hours? OccasionallyDifficult and depressing. On the one hand, the acting is sensational - both Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are clearly amongst the greatest actors of their generation, and are absolutely compelling to watch. On the other hand, why put yourself through the trauma of watching horrible characters being horrible to each other and everybody else for about three hours? Occasionally humour, humanity and redemption do peek through, but it is still a bit of a slog. I had the same uneasy reaction to "There Will Be Blood". If you liked that, you will probably like this. But is this kind of relentless psychodrama a good night out? On balance, this is abject pandering to the desire of actors to stamp their authority on their art. Nevertheless, this movie is certainly different to anything else that is coming out, and as such deserves an airing. Just be aware that the subject matter and tone is unforgivingly dark. Expand
  2. Nov 22, 2012
    5
    As usual the user reviews are better than the professional critics. This film is surely epic in the sense that it has some amazing acting and some nice scenery and the sort of spaciousness that There Will Be Blood had. BUT.... pretty much nothing actually happens. Get it later on DVD and you will soon be drifting off and checking your email while the characters sit in rooms talking. TheAs usual the user reviews are better than the professional critics. This film is surely epic in the sense that it has some amazing acting and some nice scenery and the sort of spaciousness that There Will Be Blood had. BUT.... pretty much nothing actually happens. Get it later on DVD and you will soon be drifting off and checking your email while the characters sit in rooms talking. The plot is almost literally non-existent (apart from 'ex-sailor gets involved in religious cult') but really... it gets more and more boring as it goes on and the ending is very very lacklustre. It just sort of gives up. Almost as if there were no ideas. Style over substance. 90% of the film is people in rooms talking, about 8% Joaquin Phoenix's character swigging booze or looking perplexed, 2% action. ie some actual engaging movement on the screen. At no point do you really give a toss about the main characters and what happens to them, as aside from some moments where JP starts to get programmed by the cult, he's really not a likeable character in the least and the cult leader himself is shown as no more than a clever manipulator not really any kind of vulnerable human being. Collapse
  3. Feb 14, 2013
    5
    My wife and I both felt that this was an assemblage of progressively weirder scenes rather than a story... and there was truly no one in it to like. To take the talents of these main actors, all of whom I love, and have their intensity in service of this thin gruel is pretty disappointing. Gorgeous to look at, and the mise en scene was brilliant, the period was presented wonderfully. ThatMy wife and I both felt that this was an assemblage of progressively weirder scenes rather than a story... and there was truly no one in it to like. To take the talents of these main actors, all of whom I love, and have their intensity in service of this thin gruel is pretty disappointing. Gorgeous to look at, and the mise en scene was brilliant, the period was presented wonderfully. That began to be odd in itself. Why be so faithful to this period if there was not a compelling story within it? The story could be either true or somehow dependent the era. This assemblage of mild depravity was neither. So I gather it was mainly in exercise in style. Expand
  4. Sep 21, 2012
    5
    Whenever the critics rate a movie above 80 I start to get nervous. The closer to 100 the movie gets to 100 the chance the movie will be either great or an "artsie" disaster. This movie was long, dull at times, and its message was obscure. It wasn't a disaster but too "artsie" to be enjoyable. Most in the theatre left with a look of "what did I just spend 2 hours looking at". I gaveWhenever the critics rate a movie above 80 I start to get nervous. The closer to 100 the movie gets to 100 the chance the movie will be either great or an "artsie" disaster. This movie was long, dull at times, and its message was obscure. It wasn't a disaster but too "artsie" to be enjoyable. Most in the theatre left with a look of "what did I just spend 2 hours looking at". I gave the movie a solid 5 Expand
  5. Sep 22, 2012
    5
    There Will Be Hyperbole. The critical acclaim and the great performances are to what end? (I hope this movie does not precipitate any external or internal psychiatric events.)
  6. Sep 22, 2012
    4
    Maybe the film went over my head, but I took nothing away from the Master. No feelings, no questions, no discussion. The Master is a film that sets out to tell no particular story, in no particular hurry. The characters are paper-thin, and really only give us glimpses of anything truly interesting. Make no mistake, the acting is superb, but I fear everybody is mistaking the wonderfulMaybe the film went over my head, but I took nothing away from the Master. No feelings, no questions, no discussion. The Master is a film that sets out to tell no particular story, in no particular hurry. The characters are paper-thin, and really only give us glimpses of anything truly interesting. Make no mistake, the acting is superb, but I fear everybody is mistaking the wonderful acting for an overall enjoyable experience, film, and directing. Sure, Anderson tries a lot of different things to make it seem like an important film (shooting in 65mm), but he never made it a captivating one. If many take away nothing from a film other than adoration for the director, then is it really a film worth seeing, or is it simply fodder for the critics? Expand
  7. Mar 21, 2013
    4
    I tend to love dark and weird movies but this one, just didn't work at all for me. A matte of fact, I thought it was completely retarded. Experience at your own risk.
  8. Sep 23, 2012
    6
    Very sorry to have to say that The Master was a major disappointment. This one LOOKED like a "no-brainer" based on the brilliant trailer, the tremendous cast, and being written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, whose last film, There Will Be Blood, was one of the most artistic movies of the 21st century. Although the story starts off intriguingly enough with Joaquin Phoenix brilliantVery sorry to have to say that The Master was a major disappointment. This one LOOKED like a "no-brainer" based on the brilliant trailer, the tremendous cast, and being written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, whose last film, There Will Be Blood, was one of the most artistic movies of the 21st century. Although the story starts off intriguingly enough with Joaquin Phoenix brilliant in the role of a WWII vet struggling with a severe case of PTSD, once things soon meld down to essentially Clash of the (psychopathic) Titans (Phoenix vs Hoffman), the story never really goes anywhere, other than to provide Oscar bait scene chewing scenes for the two male leads. Don't get me wrong, the film LOOKS great (cinematography, sets, costumes), however, the overall feeling I was left with (at least 40 minutes before the film even ended) was frustration and disappointment of what COULD have been. This one is strictly for those interested in seeing some interesting acting choices from Phoenix, Hoffman and Adams. Past that,... I fully expect The Master to be expelled from theaters before Halloween. Save this one for your Netflix que,...if that. Grade = C-. Expand
  9. Sep 22, 2012
    5
    Technically well done but did not like it otherwise. Tedious, pretentious and too long. Not a masterpiece by a long shot. The critics have been well paid to write glowing reviews.
  10. Sep 25, 2012
    4
    I love to see all of P.T. Anderson's movies, but I might give up after this one. He seems to have locked onto the idea of making movies now about the least likable characters possible. Whereas most films create an idealized portrait of humanity, lately he goes the other way, creating movies with grimy, grisly characters who seem to have very little redeeming qualities, if any. In "ThereI love to see all of P.T. Anderson's movies, but I might give up after this one. He seems to have locked onto the idea of making movies now about the least likable characters possible. Whereas most films create an idealized portrait of humanity, lately he goes the other way, creating movies with grimy, grisly characters who seem to have very little redeeming qualities, if any. In "There Will Be Blood", I was okay with that because I thought it was just for one film. But he delves even deeper into darkness with "The Master", and this felt more like an assault against the viewer in its dark mirth and creepiness than the real telling of a story. The acting is, of course, incredible, but the biggest problem, for me, was that he seemed to take us to very dark places without it feeling like there was a satisfactory justification. I didn't feel like the film had any payoff. It was very interesting, and the acting was great, but it was super dark, and to me unsatisfying. Expand
  11. Mar 9, 2013
    4
    "The Master" is too good to be written off as bad, but not good enough to be recommended without reservation. I think the director (PT Anderson) was going for an Kubrick-esque "Eyes Wide Shut" vibe, the camera lingers too long, there's discordant music accompaniment, and a nude women scene that's more cringe-y than enjoyable. Anderson was definitely driving a parallel to LR Hubbard and"The Master" is too good to be written off as bad, but not good enough to be recommended without reservation. I think the director (PT Anderson) was going for an Kubrick-esque "Eyes Wide Shut" vibe, the camera lingers too long, there's discordant music accompaniment, and a nude women scene that's more cringe-y than enjoyable. Anderson was definitely driving a parallel to LR Hubbard and Scientology's earliest beginnings, no doubt, and the insight had some value. Juaquin Phoenix's portrayal of a derelict alcoholic was Oscar worthy but I still didn't like the character or his journey but those affected by alcoholism may identify with him. Overall, the pacing was too slow, I was on the FF button alot, and there was just minor entertainment or information value, so I can definitely understand why some think it's a waste of time. I personally wouldn't recommend it unless you're a Scientology groupie, someone affected by alcoholism, or a fan of the cast. Expand
  12. Sep 28, 2012
    5
    I went into this movie with high expectations because of all the press it has received. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I kept waiting for the storyline to go somewhere and it didn't. There was no plot to this movie. While Joaquin Phoenix's performance was outstanding the movie itself was not. You know it's bad when during the movie you look at your watch and say to yourself thisI went into this movie with high expectations because of all the press it has received. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I kept waiting for the storyline to go somewhere and it didn't. There was no plot to this movie. While Joaquin Phoenix's performance was outstanding the movie itself was not. You know it's bad when during the movie you look at your watch and say to yourself this movie is not over yet...geez! Expand
  13. Dec 9, 2012
    4
    Pretentious, self consciously acted and ultimately boring film. Scene after scene drags on to little point or effect and the ending seemed vague. The three leads are not served well by the story or setting and i'm sure in a better focused film they would be considered excellent in their roles. However, that's what might have been. Paul Thomas Anderson seems to enjoy making these long andPretentious, self consciously acted and ultimately boring film. Scene after scene drags on to little point or effect and the ending seemed vague. The three leads are not served well by the story or setting and i'm sure in a better focused film they would be considered excellent in their roles. However, that's what might have been. Paul Thomas Anderson seems to enjoy making these long and profound films and whilst I enjoyed 'Boogie Night' and There Will be Blood' to some extent I wouldn't say either of them were completely successful either. Also disappointing was the rather bombastic score. Only the cinematography shines through here. The end result was so what! Expand
  14. Mar 16, 2013
    6
    The Master is an interesting story with masterful performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, and Amy Adams. But it drags to a point in which you count the minutes until it is finished. But even after the conclusion of the film you are confused about what the hell just happened.
  15. Nov 13, 2014
    6
    "The Master" 10 Scale Rating: 6.0 (Decent) ...

    The Good: Phillip Seymour Hoffman carries the film as it loses some of it's power when he is not in it. The subject matter itself is extremely interesting and happens to be a topic that I have always been fascinated with. While his character is only mildly interesting, Joaquin Phoenix does a solid job. The Bad: It is two hours and
    "The Master" 10 Scale Rating: 6.0 (Decent) ...

    The Good: Phillip Seymour Hoffman carries the film as it loses some of it's power when he is not in it. The subject matter itself is extremely interesting and happens to be a topic that I have always been fascinated with. While his character is only mildly interesting, Joaquin Phoenix does a solid job.

    The Bad: It is two hours and eighteen minutes long, but it feels much longer. It gets very tedious and a little boring at times. Too much filler and too many scenes that seemed to be crammed into the film.
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  16. Sep 7, 2013
    6
    The film is beautifully shot, making full use of the various surroundings they find themselves in. The use of music from the period was quite effective also, not always to my taste, but it seemed to fit pretty well. As to performances, well, all the major parts were excellently portrayed with Philip Seymour Hoffman standing out. I found I really paid attention to every scene he was in;The film is beautifully shot, making full use of the various surroundings they find themselves in. The use of music from the period was quite effective also, not always to my taste, but it seemed to fit pretty well. As to performances, well, all the major parts were excellently portrayed with Philip Seymour Hoffman standing out. I found I really paid attention to every scene he was in; without him, meaning no disrespect to the other actors involved, it kind of fell flat. I though Amy Adams was excellent too, although I felt she was underused. There appeared to be an awful lot of improvisation, particularly from Joaquin Phoenix and I found these scenes very hit and miss. I sometimes felt like I was watching an acting class. As far as the narrative goes, well I found it meandering; it was very slow (not that this is always a bad thing) and when we did get to a point it would then go off in a totally different direction. Over all, it didn’t stand out as the particularly outstanding work the critics seem to think it is; but then again, I don’t have to watch all the dross they have to on a day to day basis. Maybe I have to watch a lot of really bad films and then watch this one again, but for now it’s ‘Recommended’, but only just.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

    My score: 6.1/10.
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  17. Sep 24, 2012
    5
    Joaquin Phoenix returns to the screen as an extremely troubled WWII vet, who falls in with a religious cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The somber tone that pervades this film would have you believe that it
  18. Jul 21, 2013
    5
    The Master with Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman altho the acting was very good the story was repetitive and unfulfilling. My understanding had been it was about an L Ron Hubbard type charlatan and a mentally crippled WW2 soldier looking for something. It sometimes got a hit but more frequently seemed comatose and missed the ball...I expected something more incisive and notThe Master with Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman altho the acting was very good the story was repetitive and unfulfilling. My understanding had been it was about an L Ron Hubbard type charlatan and a mentally crippled WW2 soldier looking for something. It sometimes got a hit but more frequently seemed comatose and missed the ball...I expected something more incisive and not obscurantist poetic. Expand
  19. Jan 10, 2015
    4
    Should I watch it again?, I really don't want to ... but I clearly missed something. This film totally flew over my head without touching it. Don't take me wrong, I see and understand what happens, but I just don't care. Pointless?!
  20. Jan 12, 2013
    4
    Whether a movie is good, bad, opaque or an epic, it should never be boring. And, in my opinion, this film was boring. Joaquin Phoenix´s acting was very good, but acting very well a bad script is a bad result. Some situations were absurd, in the bad sense of the word. The characters, except that of Mr. Phoenix´s, were not well delineated, and the directing was all over theWhether a movie is good, bad, opaque or an epic, it should never be boring. And, in my opinion, this film was boring. Joaquin Phoenix´s acting was very good, but acting very well a bad script is a bad result. Some situations were absurd, in the bad sense of the word. The characters, except that of Mr. Phoenix´s, were not well delineated, and the directing was all over the place, something not surprising given the poor script. The basis of the story was good, but it needed a good development. This film lacks a good development. Expand
  21. Sep 27, 2012
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. One thing that will drive me to go see a movie is the widely varying reviews here on Metacritic - like those for The Master. A lot of people hated it - A lot of people loved it - and as a Hollywood citizen who has to walk by Scientology centers offering me free personality tests, or their Museum of Death (by psychiatry) to get to the Cinerama Dome - I was already a bit intrigued - plus I was having a boring day and thought I'd kill a few hours and make up my own mind.

    Seeing it in 70mm on the big screen I admit it looked good, but I wasn't as impressed as i thought I'd be. The acting was really great and it had it's moments but overall it was just the story of two screwy guys who don't really do much - One likes to drink poison to get high and basically has no life worth living, the other has created a floundering monster of a "religion" that involves past life regressions, a farce he must believe in to keep the bills paid. Somehow they both find comfort in helping each other - maybe the only time they can escape their personal hells? I found the film well made and well acted but I found it hard to care about any of the characters much. The cinematography was good but nothing really took my breath away. The music seemed overly dramatic at times and for some reason there were a number of scenes with groups applauding - where the sound seemed to have been eq'd to be loud and annoying. Overall i found it to be a well made, well acted, mediocre story about two mediocre men who got the mediocre life they deserve. It would have been much more entertaining if the story had its own perspective and/or cast one of the characters as the good guy or bad guy. But like many wimpy modern films it takes no perspective and makes no judgements. It just shows us how dysfunctional people can be with no opinion. It's funny - this is how I wish the reported the news - just the facts - but I prefer films with a perspective.
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  22. Feb 9, 2014
    5
    You will either love this movie for its long, drawn out philosophical banter or you will dislike it for its incredibly slow pacing.

    The first 30 minutes of the movie I had no clue what I was looking at, the next hour I quite enjoyed and the last 45 minutes I was just wishing for it to start making sense already. They've thrown some great actors into the mix and I didn't bother verifying
    You will either love this movie for its long, drawn out philosophical banter or you will dislike it for its incredibly slow pacing.

    The first 30 minutes of the movie I had no clue what I was looking at, the next hour I quite enjoyed and the last 45 minutes I was just wishing for it to start making sense already. They've thrown some great actors into the mix and I didn't bother verifying it but I believe the movie was based on Ron L. Hubbard which is always a good subject but the pacing and the length did it in for me.
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  23. Oct 14, 2012
    5
    Great acting from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, but the film is boring and self-indulgent. It is way too long; it doesn't go anywhere. It's definitely way overrated by the critics.
  24. Sep 30, 2012
    5
    Although the acting was solid, the movie was confusing and depressing. Maybe that's saying something for Phoenix's acting because he was such a sad character, I wanted to leave the movie. Maybe the movie's success and/or failure was in the fact that modern day psychology uses some of techniques that the so-called cult leader used, making followers believe at first he is a good guy.Although the acting was solid, the movie was confusing and depressing. Maybe that's saying something for Phoenix's acting because he was such a sad character, I wanted to leave the movie. Maybe the movie's success and/or failure was in the fact that modern day psychology uses some of techniques that the so-called cult leader used, making followers believe at first he is a good guy. Phillip Seymour Hoffman really looks like he has high blood pressure in all his latest movies, so I'm beginning to think it's not acting that makes him red-faced. His smoldering character in this movie was similar to his priest in Doubt. A solid downer of a movie, great or not----you decide. Don't make it for a date night. Make for that night you plan on drinking yourself into oblivion. Expand
  25. Oct 2, 2012
    4
    To Spike 69: I agree that Mr. Thomas aims at big themes. But, but, but, he is not Sartre, Tolstoy, Kafka, etc... and neither is Mr. Hubbard or dyanetics philosophyl. Let's keep it in good measure.
    I suggested that it resounds a little with some of Moby Dick's characters and some of the themes: like life searching, etc..
  26. Dec 9, 2013
    6
    Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" represents everything a challenging movie should be compellingly dissonant performances, intentionally vague thematic ideas, and a virtual plentitude of eye-catching images. It may not be for everybody, but it's definitely a philosophically engrossing ride.
  27. Mar 20, 2013
    6
    Very beautifully acted, a really great cinematographic achievement, however i do think this movie is really difficult to connect with as an audience. 6/10
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 43 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 43
  2. Negative: 1 out of 43
  1. Reviewed by: Emma Dibdin
    Nov 4, 2012
    100
    With potent performers and poetic visuals, Anderson has made the boldest American picture of the year. Its strangeness can be hard to process, but this is a shattering study of the impossibility of recovering the past.
  2. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Oct 29, 2012
    100
    An often brilliant '50s-throwback character drama that never feels nostalgic, with terrific central performances and a luminous, unforgettable visual beauty.
  3. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Sep 21, 2012
    80
    The Master is above all a love story between Joaquin Phoenix's damaged WWII vet, Freddie Quell, and Philip Seymour Hoffmann's charismatic charlatan, Lancaster Dodd. And that relationship is powerful and funny and twisted and strange enough that maybe that's all the movie needs to be about.