User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 400 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 70 out of 400

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  1. Jan 21, 2014
    Terrible. This is the kind of movie critics love but I can't find a single person I know who liked it so most of the positive reviews are just trying to be cool like the critics. My wife fell asleep it was so boring.
  2. Dec 15, 2013
    Wow what a dud. In the 60's when I began looking more critically at movies, character development, production values, etc., nudity, people masturbating, puking was kind of shocking. Now, with the advent of so many minor league producers and directors, it is commonplace. The notable part of this disaster was having such an array of fine actors scrummed in this lightweight, faux masterpiece.
    It is sad that movies need explosions, t&a, autoeroticism as subsitutes for good writing and directing. The Master was a total pile of manure.
  3. Nov 10, 2013
    Horrible, boring movie that critics love so that they can feel intellectually superior to the rest of us who just don't 'get" the move. Boring. Pointless. No plot, no resolution. But hey, the acting is good.
  4. Aug 7, 2013
    This is pretty much the worst movie I've ever seen. Good acting, but what for? There's no plot. They should either say that in the summary or just leave it blank. An absolute waste of time.
  5. Aug 1, 2013
    This is a public service announcement: Do not waste your money on this flick, we paid $1.00 at Redbox and stopped the movie 30 minutes in due to 'not wanting to waste another 2 hours of my life' on such a morose, insignificant, depressing, weird movie. These actors (who are superb, by the way) tried to save it, but couldn't. Other uses of my $1.00? Would have preferred the dollar menu at McDs or maybe a dime bag to forget I rented this slop. Expand
  6. Jul 13, 2013
    Two hours and seventeen minutes of whaaaaa... My misconception was that this was about L. Ron Hubbard the founder of Scientology but it was about a fictitious founder of "The Cause". I sure missed something. I struggled through it hoping it would get better. It didn't.
  7. Jul 2, 2013
    Although it appears that others do appreciated the pace of the film, If found it too slow for my liking. Had no other option to stop less than half way and give up on it.
  8. Jun 13, 2013
    No movie is possibly as artless or worthless as this movie is. Since all the actors were great I should give them some credit, but I hated it so much. I rather have vomited than see this.
  9. Jun 1, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Two Word Critic: Pretentious Nonsense.
    I wanted to like this movie because the director has made fine movies in the past, but this movie has no interesting value. Two lead characters who are unwatchable from the very beginning of the movie to the end, what was the point? It seems to me the movie was some kind of joke played by the director on the audience, why do you hate us mr. Anderson? What did we do to you?I watched until the end hoping something clever would happen. I wasted 2 hours on this movie. Avoid at all costs. Most uninteresting bit: Amy jerks off Phillip in on scene, Other that that, they have no chemistry in the movie, and so at the end of it all who cares?
  10. Mar 21, 2013
    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.
  11. Mar 16, 2013
    Modern self-indulgent rubbish. Too long. I gained nothing from watching this. It's nicely photographed, but that is a given in the 21st century. The acting is fine, but this is a review of the movie as a whole. Don't waste your time.
  12. Mar 9, 2013
    "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. Collapse
  13. Mar 3, 2013
    A long lamentable movie that has no positive qualities. It is among the most lifeless pieces of cinema I have ever seen. Why people love this movie is beyond my comprehension; it is just deplorable on every single level.
  14. Mar 3, 2013
    What a rambling movie. I really tried to get engaged but the plot just kept on bouncing around. I did find that acting excellent by Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but they could not overcome the ramble. Cinematography was beautiful; scenes were well shot and crafted. But too slow a pace, too thin an understanding of the characters, too much boredom,
  15. Mar 3, 2013
    I have never seen a movie that got on my nerves more than the Master. Boring is actually the least of the problems. From the pace, to the incoherent story, to the horrible ending, the movie is utter garbage. The movie goes nowhere and by the 20 minutes into the film you want it to end, problem is you have another 2 hours of hell to sit through.
  16. Feb 28, 2013
    ok phoenix is pretty awesome as an actor but the plot is grotesquely pointless and you will be cheated out of nearly 3 hours of your life if you watch this literally plotless movie.
  17. BKM
    Feb 28, 2013
    It's official: The Master is Paul Thomas Anderson's strangest film to date, ousting Punch Drunk Love from the top spot. I'll admit that I'm not entirely sure what to make of this shapeless jumble aside from the fact that Phoenix and Hoffman give masterful performances and that Anderson is, I think, exploring the psychological makeup of delusional mystics/prophets and the minds that are drawn to them. The only thing I can say with any certainty, however, is that it is painfully pretentious and dull. I was truly hoping for more from one of the most talented directors working today. Expand
  18. Jan 12, 2013
    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 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
  19. Jan 9, 2013
    It looks stunning, sounds stunning and is superbly acted. There's no denying Paul Thomas Anderson's ability to make a film except for me The Master is pretty incomprehensible and as a result feels extremely overhyped and very unsatisfying. Disappointing.
  20. Dec 29, 2012
    Critics have been desperately prostrating themselves before The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson
  21. Dec 26, 2012
    2 hours and 24 minutes of what seems to be rather an astonishing performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix less than an entertaining and interesting narrative. The story lacks the gripping sense of delving into the world of a WWII veteran and his gradual involvement in a cult which aims to "cure" him and others of illness of the mind and soul. Instead it conveys a continuous and monotonous journey of Freddy (Jeaquin Phoenix) with no change in mental state or an arc for character development, nor is there really any objective/motivation of the protagonist, just a drifting nothing. For a film that I had such high expectation, the film had me looking at my watch every two minutes and counting the aisles of the cinema room before taking a sigh of relief to the fact that the film was over so I could enter the boring reality of my world which is far more thrilling than Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master'. The subtleties of the plot could be picked up on giving it artistic merit but only to the fact that sometimes the script needed to be to the point and objective focused rather than babble on about nothing with no entertainment value or character development occurring. Of course, the film appears to be highly orchestrated and a beautiful craft of screenplay/film techniques, however, it is in dire thirst of the fundamental aspect of entertain and strike interest. Expand
  22. Dec 9, 2012
    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 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
  23. Nov 28, 2012
    I went to see this movie because of positive critic reviews. Although there are good performances by the excellent cast, the overall movie is incomprehensible and boring. All four of us fell asleep. As a reference, I've fallen asleep during about 3 movies in my entire life. In my opinion and in general, it's a bad sign when the user score is dramatically lower than the critic score here on metacritic. Expand
  24. Nov 21, 2012
    I went into the cinema expecting a film that would take a serious or thought provoking view on Scientology or cults like it. What I got was 3 hours of tedious boredom in which It seemed to follow a cycle of Joaquin Phoenix displaying his sand fetish, Philip Seymour Hoffman repeating the same lines over and over then deciding to prance around like a lunatic and then when all interest is lost it puts on awkward nude scenes. Never before have I been to a film where the audience was either collectively falling asleep, swearing at the screen over how terrible the film is or cheering when they think it's all over but then have their hopes of escape dashed.

    The characters themselves are impossible to like or take seriously seeing as they have no personality or they are all over the place and you're left wondering which character is meant to have PTSD.

    Overall a review in one sentence would be ' Makes Twilight look like a masterpiece '.
  25. Oct 27, 2012
    Pointless. While this movie has nice cinematography and good acting, it is not tied together by a plot. So, I found myself staring at cinematographic diarreah for two hours that felt like four. One of the worst movies I've paid money to watch.
  26. Oct 27, 2012
    The longest 2.5 hours of the year. Unmitigated crap, self indulgent, pretentious and most of all boring. Oh yeah, excessively overacted as well. Anything Hoffman and Phoenix act in, the critics love. Even this terrible excuse for a movie.
  27. Oct 21, 2012
    Obviously, those who enjoyed this movie or thought it was profound have never lived in California, where unhealed healers abound, and everyone gets suckered at least once. I did think it was well acted, especially by Joaquin Phoenix, but by 2012, the con is an old one, and there isn't much more to say about it. I am sorry that this pretentious and arduous effort is getting such big play. Many more imaginative movies out there! Expand
  28. Oct 10, 2012
  29. Oct 5, 2012
    This is my second review. The first was for "Tree of Life". This is not much different. While Paul Anderson dispensed with dinosaurs and psychedelics, the rest was a puzzling, endless, Mobius strip: no beginning, no end. Like "Tree of Life", this movie was crafted for the critics and the various "chic" critics awards, not ordinary, even intelligent movie goers. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant in virtually every role and is again in this one, thus the score is 1, not 0. The question is: to what end? Joaquin Phoenix mumbles endlessly, from one unintelligible sentence to another. He is incomprehensible. This movie is pointless and endless. Save your money. Expand
  30. Oct 4, 2012
    The entire movie made no sense. Many of the scenes were equally nonsensical and Joaquin Phoneix's entire role was unnecessary. Don't know what the critics saw or if they are afraid of the director but this movie is junk.
  31. Oct 4, 2012
    The movie attempts to throw light on the cult phenomenon in America; instead it shrouds it in darkness. The training scenes, based as they are in mind numbing repetition, are an ordeal to sit through. Joaquin Phoenix is a brooding presence but often is inaudible (a mercy?) Hoffman is superb. There are some sensibilities who will acclaim this a masterpiece; others a pretentious bore. If you are in doubt, wait for the sure to come satire of it on SNL/ Expand
  32. Oct 3, 2012
    A good movie is inherently defined by its pleasurable viewing moments, and this movie delivers very few. The loosely jointed plot never knits itself into any kind of coherent narrative, nor are there characters with whom one can identify or for whom one can root. It is much easier for a film to abandon the demands of solid story telling, and this movie takes the easy way out in every sense.
  33. Oct 2, 2012
    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..
  34. Sep 30, 2012
    Acting was a 9 out of 10, music and cinematography was also great....story itself, not so much. My girlfriend and I left the theater completely confused about what we just watched for 2 hours....story has potential but never develops.
  35. Sep 30, 2012
    Barely watchable, self indulgent, boring and a complete waste of the viewers time. The acting is great. Unfortunately the script hangs like a dead weight around their necks. Audible snoring in the theater and I almost wished I could have joined them, but the noise was keeping me awake.
  36. Sep 30, 2012
    First, my PTA credentials: I have consistently named Magnolia as my favorite movie of all time ever since it was released. It still is.

    Second, only two words needed for The Master: Extremely. Boring.

    I am so disappointed. PTA, please go back to the kind of story telling you are The Master of.
  37. Sep 30, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The actors were great, the story line was totally obtuse. It was the first movie I have seen a third of the audience walk out. We discussed asking for our money joy for us who have to wait to see one movie a month. Expand
  38. Sep 28, 2012
    This is my first review on Metacritic. Odd that I would finally choose my first review on something that felt passionless. I go into every movie with my mind open wide, ready for an experience I will remember. This movie did have some great cinematography, but not much else. I guess I also should give the actors a great deal of credit for portraying lunacy at its finest. Yet, we never really know any of the characters. They exist almost as if they are in our dreams representing some kind of strange, obscure beings. I did not walk away with much of anything and feel as if someone reached in my head and scrambled up my brains. I keep hoping to piece something together, but thus far I cannot seem to do it. I am a bit disappointed and confused. Although, maybe..just maybe it is nothing more than a master of trickery on all who partake. One who is in a cult, follows blindly into the darkness hanging on for dear life. The audiences follow movies and directors in a cult like way at times. Most of us follow do we climb aboard this ship of praise for this movie or do you we stand apart from the crowd and say"what the heck was the point?" Expand
  39. Sep 28, 2012
    What a terrible disappointment. Great cast and director, terrific reviews and tons of boredom. The movie started off slow and we waited for it to get better. It never did. The performances were excellent but the material wasn't there. I think the positive reviews of the story are what the reviewers expect to see and are projecting, rather than what the film contains. The audience chatter exiting the movie was overwhelmingly negative. I haven't been fooled this badly by critics since Punch Drunk Love. Expand
  40. Sep 28, 2012
    I have never felt more embarrassed recommending a movie to a group of friends - and on my birthday no less! As a P.T. Anderson fan, I was swayed by the amazing reviews from the "critics". I now wonder what Cool-aid they are drinking to give it such rave ratings.

    Yes - great acting - that is a given.
    Yes - great cinematography and sound- that too is a given.
    Story - so much
    potential, but falls far short from doing anything other than show the depravity of it's main stars and lack of substance.

    In the end I felt slimed by the brilliantly perverted mind of P.T. Anderson. I felt it necessary to apologize to my friends for putting them through this. That wasn't a gift I wanted to receive on my birthday!
  41. Sep 27, 2012
    This was one of the worst movies we have ever seen. There are only 2 other movies we disliked more than this one! The acting was pretty good but seemed like a waste on such an absolutely terrible movie. Nearly walked out 3 times. If it wasn't for one of our friends sons who actually liked it we would have walked out. He was just released from a mental institute on Monday and hadn't seen a movie in over a year; he loved the seen of Joaquin masturbating to beach sand (no joke). He likes animals a little too much. We will not be hanging out with him again. Don't waste your money on this Church of Scientology bunk. Notice how this movie started off strong in early ratings, now that more people have seen it the user score has dropped significantly! Expand
  42. Sep 25, 2012
    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 "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
  43. Sep 24, 2012
    After the brilliance of "There Will Be Blood", I was really looking forward to this film. Like many of the other users stated, I get nervous when the experts starting lavishing out the high praise as I have found that means really slow and boring abot 50% of the time. Well, this film is is dreadfully slow, boring,and untethered. "Tree of Life" was an action film compared to this snoozer. I think I got the outlines of the plot but they sure could have added something in to the emptiness to engage the viewer. Phoenix's drunken, violent persona was a one dimensional bore after two times and Hoffman is a great actor but he didn't have much to work with. My viewing friend kept asking if I wanted to leave but I stayed to the bitter end. An end that did not come soon enough. Dreadful! Expand
  44. Sep 24, 2012
    Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, with these two great actors, this is what they produced? There is no denying the tremendous acting ability of these two men, but the movie, stinks on ice. I noticed my fellow theater goers checking their watch, as I was, to see how long we would have to suffer until it was over. I had the opportunity to speak to some of the movie goers on our way out, complete disappointment. Expand
  45. Sep 23, 2012
    This movie had a 30 minute plot that was stretched out over 2+ hours. Sure the acting was great, but there just wasn't enough meat in the story to carry it. Seems an accurate view of the beginnings of scientology-like cults though. I almost walked out a couple of times, and was very glad when it was over
  46. Sep 23, 2012
    The Master left us confused and a little empty. Hoffman and Phoenix deliver dramatic portraits that take us nowhere. None of the characters were very likable.
  47. Sep 23, 2012
    I am with the other 19 reviewers giving this a negative review. People think way too hard. Any one who was coming out of this thinking that the movie was some grand statement or beautiful work saw a different movie than what I saw. I kept wanting to leave the movie, and didn't--just because I thought maybe, just maybe it would get better in the end. I have never run out of a theatre as fast as I did when that was over. It was really just a bore, and made me very, very upset, and taught me not to use Metacritic to pick which movies to see. Please don't see this. I'll feel bad if you do. Expand
  48. Sep 23, 2012
    I sat through this movie for almost 2 hours wondering where it was going and when. Maybe it was to artsy or just over my head. Whatever it was, I haven't been so confused about a movie since Memento, even Memento made you think. The master will probably win an Oscar, it only made me feel like I was punked.
  49. Sep 23, 2012
    I use metacritic to help make my movie selections, so someone needs to say this! Yes, good acting. Yes, unusual music, though disturbing. Yes, good cinematography that you expect for any movie. But expected for any movie is a plot, a story, a reason to exist, to watch, to understand, to persuade, to enjoy or even to hate. There's nothing here. After 2 1/2 hours, thankfully it ends and you're grateful that you at least had a comfy chair and hot buttered popcorn to waste your time! Expand
  50. Sep 23, 2012
    I have never seen so many people walk out of the theater about halfway through the movie. To those of you expecting an Oscar-caliber film, while it may undeservedly be nominated for Oscars, this movie is nothing but a collection of beautifully shot but meandering scenes. There's no story, no narrative arc, just two unlikeable characters interacting in crazier ways. It becomes tiresome, fast.
  51. Sep 23, 2012
    I went to see this movie because Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman were in it and it had great reviews. I think at the time it had an 88 here on Metacritic. That is pretty much a no lose situation. Well there are always exceptions to the rules.... OK first let me say I found the acting of Joaquin Phoenix, and Philip Seymour Hoffman to be brilliant. That being said this movie was excruciating to watch. My favorite part was the end because that signified the last of my suffering. I never cared about the story itself or the characters involved. I kept waiting for it to go somewhere or get interesting but for the most part it never did. If you want to see brilliant acting and don't care about the story then I highly recommend The Master. If you want an interesting/entertaining story then I would select another movie. Expand
  52. Sep 22, 2012
    I wanted to like this movie because the director has made great movies in the past, but this movie has no redeeming value whatsoever. Two lead characters who are jerks from the very beginning of the movie to the end, what was the point? It seems to me the movie was some kind of joke played by the director on the audience, why do you hate us mr. Anderson? What did we do to you? I wanted to walk out because of how intensely detestable these characters were but I stayed until the end hoping something redeeming would happen. I want the 2 hours of my life I wasted on this movie and my money back with an apology mr. Anderson. Expand
  53. Sep 22, 2012
    I could not, for the life of me, believe in the premise of the movie, that the Seymour-Hoffman character was supposed to be this charismatic figure people flocked to. His character was so uncharismatic, so completely banal -- why would any of the characters in the movie be interested in anything he said? I was bored beyond caring halfway through the movie and wished I was watching Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry instead. Expand
  54. Sep 22, 2012
    If this show is considered good - then I don't get it! Although, I don't consider myself a prude and can tolerate brief nudity this was BEYOND my tolerance! The whole theme of the movie was disgusting and nauseating! This is really about degenerate men doing degenerate things. I saw no redeeming qualities in the men or the show. Some of the scenery was beautiful - but is spoiled by what goes on in the movie. I can't think of a movie I have watched that was a disgusting as this one - the only 10 it gets from me is 10 for disgusting. Expand
  55. Sep 22, 2012
    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 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
  56. Sep 22, 2012
    This movie should be called "Blah, Blah, Blah". I tried to love it. I wanted to love it. I admire and respect all the creative artists involved. It was pretty. It was well acted. But somewhere in the second hour (it would be incorrect to call it an "act", there are no "acts" in this film), I found myself wanted to chew through my arms to release myself from the theater. Perhaps if I had seen it in 70 mm the drive, character arcs or (god forbid art house movie lovers)... the PLOT might have been revealed in greater detail. As it was, I left shaking my head and wondering what I could have done if I got those 2 1/2 hours back... Expand
  57. Sep 22, 2012
    In the end, the film is self-important- a hodgepodge of shiftless vignettes that add up to something tiresomely less than their sum. An incredible acting performance from Phoenix is diminished and finally dissolved in a stagnant reservoir of anti-plot where the maddening fact that nothing ever happens is justified audaciously and insultingly by the old highbrow notion that each non-happening is so meaningful in itself as to make the need for story irrelevant. Adding salt to the wound, the audience is consistently made to feel guilty and ashamed for its terribly middle class inability to appreciate or connect with such a vaunted and critically acclaimed "masterpiece." Viewers are finally left to wonder if even Scientology itself could take their eleven dollars while offering such straight-faced, masturbatory nonsense in return. Expand
  58. Sep 21, 2012
    Some people go to a movie to sit back, relax and be entertained. Others don
  59. Sep 18, 2012
    For me, this movie was a case of the critics serving the cool-aide and us moronic masses following their leaders (cult)! While I'll admit that the individual performances were good, the collective was an uninteresting mess. I had zero connection to any of the characters and could have cared less what happened to them. Dreadfully long, dreadfully boring. Our entire group simply hated it.
  60. Sep 18, 2012
    It's tempting to label opaque films as profound. Their ambiguity hints at a well of feeling percolating just beneath the surface, one that touches on pain, loss, sadness, everything it is to be human. But, and this may be a hard pill to swallow, sometimes opaque films are just that: opaque. They are pointless exercises in nebulous action and inactive structure for the sake of appearing profound. The Master falls into this category. It is a full 2.5 hours of unbridled fatuous nonsense. Paul Thomas Anderson, who is no doubt a talented writer/director, seems to have gotten lost in his own reputation for literary mystique, and the result is one of the more narcissistic pieces of films I've had the displeasure of watching. Be assured that if any no-name writer/director submitted this script for financing, he/she would have been met with a resounding chorus of criticism, and the project would never have gotten off the ground. The Master presents no story, no real characters, nothing beyond a handsomely shot vacuous mess. The film's climactic moments fail to stir an emotional response because they signify nothing grander than the cinematic arrogance of an auteur that relishes the label auteur. If ever there was an example of narcissism in film, The Master is it. As for the throngs of adoring fans, I would only suggest that artistic output, particularly vague, nonsensical artistic output, has the unique ability to coerce accolades by intimidation. To suggest that there is nothing profound in The Master is to open oneself up to the criticism that he/she was incapable of picking up on the films nuances. It's tempting instead to nod along with the discordant soundtrack and addled story structure and pretend to get it. But I don't feel like nodding along to this because there is nothing here to get. And the unending stream of praise might be the most pointed example of insecurity since the Emperor sauntered out in public wearing his new clothes. Expand
  61. Sep 17, 2012
    There is a growing chorus of hosannas greeting "The Master" that will no doubt crescendo around Oscar time, but I would like to add my voice to the minority. There are very few negative reviews for this movie. Those I have seen have usually received a stream of venom from readers, who fill the comments sections with wounded outrage. The raves, meanwhile, are telling in their own way. Consider this quote from our own Kenneth Turan ("'The Master' mesmerizes in word and deed", LA Times, 9/13/12): "its interest is not in tidy narrative satisfactions but rather the excesses and extremes of human behavior, the interplay of troubled souls desperate to find their footing." Tidy narrative satisfactions. Here's another: "This is a superbly crafted film that's at times intentionally opaque, as if its creator didn't want us to see all the way into its heart of darkness." Anyone beginning to get a whiff of **** here? No? Perhaps we should take the advice of Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum: "the movie may not even be fully comprehensible on first viewing, the bigger patterns in the narrative and the rhythms of the filmmaking revealing themselves more fully and clearly only with a return visit. Even then The Master is enigmatic." Well, you can't have everything. But Kenneth Turan deserves the final word: "it's disconcerting that the relationship between (Dodd and Quell) gets murkier rather than clearer as time goes on, (but) that is perhaps the point." Yes, we all love being disconcerted by murky enigmas, don't we? There's a certain feeling of sophistication that comes along with it. But this seems to me to be more like the shared thrill of a mob mentality, the kind of thing that gets dictators elected and cult leaders established, a projected fantasy of greatness that finds affirmation in incomprehensible mediocrity. We've seen it before. It would be perhaps too harsh to say that "The Master" is an example of this. There is no doubt a lot fine work on display in this film. But if I want opacity, I can always just stare at a wall. Expand
  62. Sep 16, 2012
    I watched this film today, from a 70mm print. It is one of a handful of movies I wish I had never seen. It is slow and ponderous for the first half. The two main characters are unlikeable, which would be OK if they engaged you, which they don't. I might have sympathized with Freddie and his obvious PTSD issue if he hadn't been such a crude violent drunken jerk. The Master never felt real; portraying a faker without looking and feeling fake must be harder than I thought. All the way through this film is distinctly 1950's shooting and editing. The professional critics apparently love this; but in the theater audience it felt distinctly weird. We have moved on a long way from Panasonic 65mm cameras. This film is a throwback. If you like retro films and plots that go nowhere, this film was made for you. Expand

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
    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
    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
    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.