The Master

User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 447 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 75 out of 447
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  1. Aug 18, 2014
    8
    The Master is a well-executed and thought-provoking drama from Paul Thomas Anderson that raises many moral questions, and refuses to accept easy answers. While countless directors have gone down the "dystopian future "road, Anderson creates a very interesting "dystopian past". Now I use this term loosely because this film is based in real society, but the dystopian part shows in the mindThe Master is a well-executed and thought-provoking drama from Paul Thomas Anderson that raises many moral questions, and refuses to accept easy answers. While countless directors have gone down the "dystopian future "road, Anderson creates a very interesting "dystopian past". Now I use this term loosely because this film is based in real society, but the dystopian part shows in the mind of PTSD sufferer Freddie Quell, a disturbed man who is drawn in to the lifestyle of Lancaster Dodd, a cult leader. While the film may overstay its welcome in the final third, it's still a great and important picture. Expand
  2. 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
  3. Sep 1, 2014
    8
    Every so often we get a film that challenges us--this is that film for 2012. Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman each give some of their finest work. With such boldness and poetry through the eyes of Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master will not be easily forgotten.
  4. 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.
  5. Mar 3, 2013
    0
    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.
  6. Jul 30, 2014
    8
    I truly did like this one, though I do not find it to be as deep and sophisticated as many critics and others who have watched this one. At the end of the day, this one has themes like every other film, but for the most part, the question, "What is this one about?" can be answered by saying that it is a character study of a deeply troubled man and his father-son type relationship with aI truly did like this one, though I do not find it to be as deep and sophisticated as many critics and others who have watched this one. At the end of the day, this one has themes like every other film, but for the most part, the question, "What is this one about?" can be answered by saying that it is a character study of a deeply troubled man and his father-son type relationship with a cult leader. Nothing profound or deep and, to me, many people are looking into this one too closely and looking for something that is simply not there. Now, onto the film itself. Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman are fantastic and are a great juxtaposition to one another, as Phoenix is over the top, unhinged, violent, and angry, while Hoffman is calm, cool, collected, and calculating. Amy Adams is also good here, though I do wish her role was larger, but at the end of the day, this one is about Phoenix and Hoffman's relationship. The script here is also very strong and does a fantastic job developing the characters. The cinematography is gorgeous, in particular the repeated shots of the water and then the shots of them in desert. Really well done and beautiful to look at without question. Paul Thomas Anderson's direction is also strong as well. After watching Punch-Drunk Love and not liking it after having loved There Will Be Blood and liking Hard Eight, I was still worried that maybe Anderson's films would be more hit and miss for me. However, this one convinced me that that may not be the case, as his direction and this film were really good. At the end of the day, The Master is not for everyone, but for me, it was right up my alley. Expand
  7. Mar 10, 2013
    9
    Paul Thomas Anderson continues to prove that he's one of the best directors going today. If you want a film with superior acting and outstanding dialogue then I would highly recommend The Master.
  8. Mar 3, 2013
    0
    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.
  9. Dec 20, 2012
    10
    Some will say the storyline of The Master seems basic, and told in an overly convuluted way; however, any true movie-hound knows Anderson doesn't care about what's happening on the surface. It's all about the symbolism, and The Master is filled with fascinating meanings and subtle truth, the when looked for, hit you like a bullet train. It is a magnificent accomplishment in acting,Some will say the storyline of The Master seems basic, and told in an overly convuluted way; however, any true movie-hound knows Anderson doesn't care about what's happening on the surface. It's all about the symbolism, and The Master is filled with fascinating meanings and subtle truth, the when looked for, hit you like a bullet train. It is a magnificent accomplishment in acting, writing, directing, editing, cinematography, and score, and the best American film of the year. Expand
  10. j30
    Oct 4, 2012
    10
    The Master is the movie to beat this year. If you want a movie to think for you go see something else. Without a doubt the movie will polarize it's audiences. But what did you expect from Paul Thomas Anderson? The same person who brought us "There Will Be Blood," "Boogie Nights," and "Magnolia."
  11. Sep 16, 2012
    8
    It's an absolutely beautiful film - shot for shot - especially if you're seeing it in 70mm. A couple of shots, actually, were probably the most amazing I've ever seen (ie., the boat leaving SF Harbor). Phoenix and Hoffman deliver absolutely phenomenal performances - I was transfixed by the first couple of "processing" sequences. The jailhouse scene is incredible. What prevented it fromIt's an absolutely beautiful film - shot for shot - especially if you're seeing it in 70mm. A couple of shots, actually, were probably the most amazing I've ever seen (ie., the boat leaving SF Harbor). Phoenix and Hoffman deliver absolutely phenomenal performances - I was transfixed by the first couple of "processing" sequences. The jailhouse scene is incredible. What prevented it from getting a higher score from me what that it loosened up toward the end and lost some focus. It simply wasn't as coherent and tight as the artists best work - There Will Be Blood, Punch Drunk Love, et al. Expand
  12. Feb 12, 2013
    9
    Perceived as my most anticipating film of 2012, THE MASTER is Paul Thomas Anderson’s ambitious comeback after THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007, 9/10), 5 years interval may be too long for PTA fanboys, but again the wait is unmistakably deserved. Post-WWII, a USA naval veteran inadvertently hops on a yacht one night and is hooked on a cult named “The Cause”, lead by its eloquent yet irasciblePerceived as my most anticipating film of 2012, THE MASTER is Paul Thomas Anderson’s ambitious comeback after THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007, 9/10), 5 years interval may be too long for PTA fanboys, but again the wait is unmistakably deserved. Post-WWII, a USA naval veteran inadvertently hops on a yacht one night and is hooked on a cult named “The Cause”, lead by its eloquent yet irascible master, while being an avid follower of the master, his perennial booze-abusive, sex-driven, violent nature enables himself to be the soul needs salvation, a side-kick and a role model, it also encroaches his mental realm and life orientation, eventually challenges his loyalty with The Cause and the master. PTA’s trademark roving and tracking long-shots maintain as engaging as any directors could ever achieve, not obtrusive but impeccably tally with the storytelling; the retro-soaked palette authentically establishes a mystic aura of the inexplicable internal mechanism of how our emotion rises and falls, attended by a rhythmic score from Jonny Greenwood.

    Joaquin Phoenix gives me a first impression of Michael Shannon (whose TAKE SHELTER 2011, 9/10 is among my top pick of 2011), in a far gaunter figure, he embodies his character so devotedly and destructively, it is a privilege to appreciate his hunchback stance, the unique way when he speaks (English words evade me now, help?), his exuberance, his furore, his confusion and his determination. The erosive bitterness conceals in his gawky body is compelling and he is a war victim, a damaged good seeking for a rejuvenation, the master and The Cause may or may not cure him, anyhow, he still possess his free will, if only the power of repetition works. Philip Seymour Hoffman, doesn’t need too much physique alternation though, is equally mesmerizing if not too overbearing, his mind-blowing delineation of the master’s polarized volatility is another textbook archetype of performance art. Amy Adams, whose fourth Oscar-nomination in 8 years has wrought some dissent here, accomplishes an amazing expressionless supporting performance, her role doesn’t require any ostentatious flare-up, but each time her composure and relentlessness exudes disparate feelings from inside (blithe, haughty, disdained, confident, commanding, suspicious, disgusted, etc.), and her “milking the cow”coalition with Hoffman is simply petrifying. Grabbing only 3 acting nominations (with faint possibility to win any of them), THE MASTER’s bumpy Oscar-road is far from triumphant compared with THERE WILL BE BLOOD, but time will testify whether it is an overlooked masterpiece or an elusive piece of self-indulgent, but no matter on which case, one cannot deny that it heralds that PTA is most probably on his way to be the Stanley Kubrick of our generation (not least suggested by the evocative nudity scenes which seemingly pay tribute to the masked orgy in EYES WIDE SHUT 1999, 8/10), and it is a tremendous blessing for all the cinephiles.
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  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. Jun 25, 2013
    9
    Paul Thomas Anderson continues to mesmerise us with his gripping and powerful and intriguing techniques of film, and the journey doesn't stop with The Master,even if the film never fully let's us in on the whole plan.
    Joaquin Phoenix also proves once again that he is one of the finest and most hard working actors of his time with his performance as Freddie Quell, a man who Phoenix could
    Paul Thomas Anderson continues to mesmerise us with his gripping and powerful and intriguing techniques of film, and the journey doesn't stop with The Master,even if the film never fully let's us in on the whole plan.
    Joaquin Phoenix also proves once again that he is one of the finest and most hard working actors of his time with his performance as Freddie Quell, a man who Phoenix could have you convinced is very much real and sitting next to you, his personality erratic and broken after finding it extremely difficult adjusting to life after serving in World War II, his behaviour lands him in various amounts of trouble as he decides to take up portrait photography, but is continued abuse of alcohol and sexual obsession causes him nothing but problems, then Lancaster Dodd comes along, played by the growing phenomenon of acting that is Philip Seymour Hoffman, who in the film plays a man who is the leader of a movement of what can be outlined as free thinking and overcoming all sorts of issues, he truly has all the answers.
    His approach to therapy along with his family is frowned upon by many, they stay in the houses of their followers while his wife Peggy (Amy Adams) sees that Freddie may be their downfall. The true outline of the film is how human behaviour and a large array of personalities can collide, Quell is damaged, erratic and full of surprise, almost bipolar, while Dodd is a collected and content man, with goals and ambitions always in his sight, his motives are unclear and these are indeed hidden from the viewer, a technique that works on many occasions, but at times can become puzzling and may be misinterpreted.
    A score from the same composer of There Will Be Blood has its important and pivotal part in this thrilling film, a mixture of sombre but upbeat tones perfectly mirrors the difference in characters who are bound to collide at some point.
    The opacity that people are diving at to destroy the film is the ideal way for the viewer to interpret this film how they see fit, the movement that is prominent throughout the film is reminiscent of Scientology, and while not as horrific as The People's Temple, the flashes of mastery and looking to one true person leave it to the lucky viewer to decide exactly what is happening, plenty of questions lead to an array of interesting answers.
    A powerful and enthralling effort that will not cease to amaze in terms of performances and writing, you won't get these performances "staring at a wall".
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  15. Nov 18, 2012
    9
    Truly remarkable performances from Phoenix and Hoffman, with the former (Freddie) portraying an navy veteran, a true outcast and degenerate, unable to conform, always following his instincts in contrast with the latter (the Master) who has it all worked out and will not reason with anyone who does not believe in 'The Cause', a philosophy of life he introduced and cultivates and promotesTruly remarkable performances from Phoenix and Hoffman, with the former (Freddie) portraying an navy veteran, a true outcast and degenerate, unable to conform, always following his instincts in contrast with the latter (the Master) who has it all worked out and will not reason with anyone who does not believe in 'The Cause', a philosophy of life he introduced and cultivates and promotes through his method. When the two men are brought together, they inevitably effect one another, with the Master inspired the animalistic behaviour of Freddie whilst Freddie goes on a journey to find himself. I would not be surprised if this film wins a number of awards especially for acting. Expand
  16. 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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  17. Sep 21, 2012
    2
    Some people go to a movie to sit back, relax and be entertained. Others don
  18. Sep 21, 2012
    10
    The Master, the new Paul Thomas Anderson movie, with Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix, and what happen? The movie is AWESOME, have an interesting story, with an incredible development, the characters are awesome because the performances are really great, and the screenplay wow, cool. I love The Master.
  19. Mar 3, 2013
    7
    The acting prowess of the trio of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joachim Phoenix, and Amy Adams that made this worth-while for viewers. Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" is fabulously well-acted and crafted--no question, but it's the material that is not clear. It has two performances of Oscar caliber, but how do they connect? "The Master" won't likely impress the audience of his earlierThe acting prowess of the trio of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joachim Phoenix, and Amy Adams that made this worth-while for viewers. Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" is fabulously well-acted and crafted--no question, but it's the material that is not clear. It has two performances of Oscar caliber, but how do they connect? "The Master" won't likely impress the audience of his earlier masterstroke. A film that starts off seeming like the best of 2012 slowly becomes a chore to sit through. It didn't have to be that way. The things that are lacking in "The Master"--are those any good screenwriter could have fixed. Alas, Anderson wrote this one himself.

    Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, a soldier back from the Second World War who's finding it hard to adjust back to society, given his violent tendencies and is usually in a floating world of his own, fueled by his own deadly mix and concoction of any liquids he can find to develop into bootleg alcohol. In his drunken stupor one day he stumbles upon the boat full of followers of The Cause, and as a stowaway gets to meet the charismatic Cause leader Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman), who decides to take him under his wing, with Freddie's ability to conjure up some of his magic juice a plus to have around the community. It's a toss-up as to what Freddie requires most a master, a sponsor, or a shrink and Dodd vacillates between all these roles when he takes Freddie on as a pet cause. For the next half hour, the film explores the odd bond that develops between this brilliant, articulate master manipulator and this confused, tongue-tied grifter. The Animated the first half hour soon slows down-- and then--sooner than later, grinds to a halt as "The Master" becomes a series of episodes. Just scenes from life inside a burgeoning cult-like organization.

    If you're hoping for insights into Scientology, or some kind of expose, there are none to be had. The movie's focus remains on those two men, Freddie and the Master, but there's really very little to explore there, and so the movie, ever so slowly and yet ever so definitely, begins to sag and then cave in. What made this film compelling to watch despite its scenes that seem to linger in indulgence--and requiring patience to sit through scores of repetition--are the powerhouse performances. Ultimately it's a plain sailing affair, with only its great performances to thank and shore up what's lacking in strength of story. "The Master" is a film that is too vague or compelling about it's Cause.
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  20. Oct 5, 2012
    10
    It's not a perfect film but the effect it had on me warrants a perfect score. It has the best performances of the year with Joaquin Phoenix playing Freddy Quiad and Philip Seymour Hoffman playing Lancaster Dodd. It may be to long and some scenes may not work as well as they should but the overall effect of the film is undeniably powerful. At the end of the film a failed to get out of myIt's not a perfect film but the effect it had on me warrants a perfect score. It has the best performances of the year with Joaquin Phoenix playing Freddy Quiad and Philip Seymour Hoffman playing Lancaster Dodd. It may be to long and some scenes may not work as well as they should but the overall effect of the film is undeniably powerful. At the end of the film a failed to get out of my seat it was that thought provoking and powerful. Expand
  21. 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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  22. BKM
    Feb 28, 2013
    3
    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 areIt'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
  23. Sep 23, 2012
    9
    This is a mesmerizing film. I haven't a clue if it's a good film, but it sure struts itself out as one. The acting is beyond superb, even if Phoenix made me squirm with his part psycho, part PTSD, neanderthal, as loose a cannon that ever strode the silver screen. It's not a profound film, just made to look like one, but the film making is awesome. And I would love to see the Director'sThis is a mesmerizing film. I haven't a clue if it's a good film, but it sure struts itself out as one. The acting is beyond superb, even if Phoenix made me squirm with his part psycho, part PTSD, neanderthal, as loose a cannon that ever strode the silver screen. It's not a profound film, just made to look like one, but the film making is awesome. And I would love to see the Director's cut. It reminded me a lot of Orson Welles best work, minus the heavy metaphors (except of course the sand lady). It's as quintessential American as any movie I've seen. Power, religion, ego, violence, unconscious self loathing, all wrapped into one complicated, and perplexing picture. And scene after scene of either/or hold your breath, squirm in your seat, shake your head tension, or all three. Expand
  24. Sep 24, 2012
    3
    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.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
  25. Oct 7, 2012
    8
    I think that if you had no idea who PT Anderson is you could pick out his movies by now. He has created another wonderfully atmospheric film full of broken multilayer-ed characters. This film falls short for me where many other Anderson films have, I don't care what happens to these characters, I never become emotionally invested in them. For me that is what keeps most of his films fromI think that if you had no idea who PT Anderson is you could pick out his movies by now. He has created another wonderfully atmospheric film full of broken multilayer-ed characters. This film falls short for me where many other Anderson films have, I don't care what happens to these characters, I never become emotionally invested in them. For me that is what keeps most of his films from going from very good to great. However I don't know if I want Anderson to create those types of characters because his films always haunt me for weeks, and his characters are so ambiguous that I find myself in wonderment of who they are and where they came from. Phoenix and Hoffman, and Adams for that matter, are all excellent in this film. Phoenix and Hoffman's scenes together are mesmerizing. Their characters are so emotionally complex that we become immersed in their misery and desperation. I am immensely looking forward to revisiting this film again in the future. Expand
  26. Mar 15, 2013
    9
    One of the most interesting and highest quality movie I have seen for a long time. The acting was superb. Mr. Joaquin Phoenix and Mr. Philip Seymour Hoffman acting was more than brilliant. Amy Adams was also great in her role. What is that movie about? I think it is a character study and a meditation on the human desire to find its place in life. This is shown through the life of a "lost"One of the most interesting and highest quality movie I have seen for a long time. The acting was superb. Mr. Joaquin Phoenix and Mr. Philip Seymour Hoffman acting was more than brilliant. Amy Adams was also great in her role. What is that movie about? I think it is a character study and a meditation on the human desire to find its place in life. This is shown through the life of a "lost" man who is looking for happiness, a purpose and a bond with others (a family of some sort). This way He (Phoenix) bumps into the Cause, and meets the Master (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The Master is a man who is also kind of "lost" in life, and tries to find his happiness and place trough the cult he is leading. In the movie we see a snippet from the life of a cult and the people behind it. These people (like many other people) try to find a meaning behind their life. I think this was the main theme of the movie, beside many more themes... in my opinion Expand
  27. 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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  28. 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
  29. Sep 5, 2014
    7
    When a director has such a fame as PTA has - with people calling him wunderkind, the next blabla and other appalling names - it is inevitable that each new film tends to be seen as a new step in his career, as if his works were all connected. I don't think this is the case: The Master kind of stands alone amongst PTA's filmography, and I must confess, if I were to rate it comparing it withWhen a director has such a fame as PTA has - with people calling him wunderkind, the next blabla and other appalling names - it is inevitable that each new film tends to be seen as a new step in his career, as if his works were all connected. I don't think this is the case: The Master kind of stands alone amongst PTA's filmography, and I must confess, if I were to rate it comparing it with his previous films, I'd give it a 4.

    The performances are good, especially Hoffman's rather than Phoenix's in my opinion, the cinematography was spectacular as always - the real problem is the storytelling. The unusual film choice might have extended in sort of a "total 50s feel" where even the pacing of the film is old-fashioned. Anyway, the story itself is interesting, it just isn't delivered as potently as it could have.

    That said, still one of the good movies. My jaw drops when I see "The Avengers" rated more than this by users.
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  30. Jan 19, 2015
    10
    This is a work of art and Paul Thomas Anderson has constantly shown us again and again that he may be the most artistically gifted film-maker working today. Although it's brimming with philosophical ideas about deception, manipulation, scientology and psychiatry and pervaded with beautiful visuals, at its essence the Master is a love story. It follows the storyline of a Naval veteranThis is a work of art and Paul Thomas Anderson has constantly shown us again and again that he may be the most artistically gifted film-maker working today. Although it's brimming with philosophical ideas about deception, manipulation, scientology and psychiatry and pervaded with beautiful visuals, at its essence the Master is a love story. It follows the storyline of a Naval veteran (brilliantly played by Joaquin Phoenix) who arrives home from war unsettled by the traumatic events he's been through and unsure of his place in the world. By the end of the film, we learn that the real question to ask isn't if he's ready to be a part of the world, but, "Is the world ready to know him?". Expand
  31. Nov 19, 2012
    9
    Dustin Hoffamn and Joaquin Phoenix are remarkable
  32. Jan 22, 2013
    8
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Alla fine, uno si chiede: ma Freddie, in fondo, ha sempre e solo considerato importante il sesso? Forse non la più profonda tra le tante domande che possono nascere dalla visione di 'The master' ma, come tutte le altre, è impossibile fornire una risposta certa. Nel film che, per molti, è stato il vincitore morale dell'ultimo festival di Venezia, Anderson (suoi anche soggetto e sceneggiatura) si limita a raccontare, senza l'esigenza di dare spiegazioni o esprimere giudizi: se Lancaster Dodd può ricordare vagamente Ron Hubbard, La Causa si rifà a Scientology come potrebbe ispirarsi a qualsiasi altra setta basata sul condizionamento mentale. L'interesse del regista è incentrato sulle dinamiche interpersonali: la più importante è quella tra i due protagonisti principali, ma le altre sono comunque necessarie per delineare il microcosmo in cui si svolge l'azione, a partire dal rapporto (di forza) tra Dodd e la moglie Peggy. Da tutto ciò si possono dedurre con facilità due considerazioni: si tratta di un film complesso, tutt'altro che immediato anche perché la storia è quasi solo un esile pretesto (motivo per cui l'opera ha la sua schiera di detrattori fra coloro che pensano che due ore così siano eccessive o inutili); perché ogni cosa funzioni, è necessaria una maiuscola prova d'attori. Il che puntualmente accade, con un cast ben assortito e funzionale su cui giganteggiano Phoenix e Hoffman (con relativa pioggia di premi e nomination che coinvolge anche Amy Adams che è Peggy). Il primo interpreta Freddie, un marinaio reduce della Seconda Guerra Mondiale con più di un problema annidato in una psicologia incline alla violenza, dandogli una camminata e un modo di parlare da Braccio di Ferro vestito come Humphrey Bogart (ah, i pantaloni a vita alta..), ma mantenendo in miracoloso equilibrio un ruolo a forte rischio caricaturale. Il secondo è invece Dodd, pifferaio magico capace di parlare molto senza dire nulla e riuscendo comunque a condizionare le menti di chi ne subisce il fascino fino alla commozione, come la Helen Sullivan nei cui panni ho ritrovato, dopo una vita, Laura Dern. Freddie entra nella sua orbita, complici anche i fortissimi liquori che egli stesso fabbrica, ma, pur restando coinvolto nel rapporto maestro-allievo (anche se 'maestro' non rende appieno l'originale 'master'), riesce a mantenere sempre una sottile linea di resistenza alla completa sudditanza :è vero, qualcosa ci perde Expand
  33. Apr 20, 2013
    8
    A rare breed of film which compels it's audience to think and come to their own conclusions about what they are witnessing. From the soundtrack to every poignant shot, 'The Master' demonstrates technical excellence and brandishes a superb cast. How such a momentous piece of work can be so grossly overlooked is unfathomable.
  34. Oct 4, 2012
    2
    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.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
  35. Mar 30, 2015
    9
    The cinematography wraps a quaint, pleasant world around two men navigating a hopeless search for order in the world and themselves. The audience won't immediately identify with the manic behavior or violent mood swings (Rex Reed hates anything that isn't immediately likable like a dessert), but the audience will certainly identify the religious aspects and human behavior surroundingThe cinematography wraps a quaint, pleasant world around two men navigating a hopeless search for order in the world and themselves. The audience won't immediately identify with the manic behavior or violent mood swings (Rex Reed hates anything that isn't immediately likable like a dessert), but the audience will certainly identify the religious aspects and human behavior surrounding tightly-gripped philosophies and beliefs: certainty, skepticism, narcissism, insanity. It's serious, funny, subtle, just perfect to dissect and enjoy. Expand
  36. Jul 8, 2015
    10
    it gets a ten because the thought of amy adams being smarter than hoffman would kill him in real life... not to mention the scene in the prison cell and the fact that modest mouse told me to watch it.......makes it automatic ten...also love cults to death
  37. Jan 10, 2014
    9
    A film with two great performances by Phoenix and Hoffman and great character development. Another fantastic uneasy soundtrack gives this a feel similar to There Will Be Blood, although this film seems even darker in tone. Worth more than one viewing
  38. Feb 3, 2013
    10
    Where do I begin with this mystical masterpiece, and where do I end? Off the heels of his modern day classic, The Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson constructs yet another challenging art film that’s sure to mystify and perplex viewers across the globe in The Master. The film follows Freddie Quell, an unstable drifter fueled by alcohol, who recently returned from the Second World War.Where do I begin with this mystical masterpiece, and where do I end? Off the heels of his modern day classic, The Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson constructs yet another challenging art film that’s sure to mystify and perplex viewers across the globe in The Master. The film follows Freddie Quell, an unstable drifter fueled by alcohol, who recently returned from the Second World War. Plunged deep within his most basic animalistic instincts, Quell stumbles upon the charismatic, self-actualized man known as Lacaster Dodd, who leads a movement (cult!) called the Cause. Dodd sees this man as a new challenge, and the film treks his attempt to tame this beast that is Freddie Quell. Is Dodd truly the Master (as he is commonly referred to in the film) or is it Quell who has mastered and embraced his animalistic instinct… One could even go further to question if Dodd’s wife (played with chilly precision by Amy Adams!!), who seems to be married to the Cause, has more clout than she lets on. Clearly inspired by scientology and its founding father, L. Ron Hubbard, the movie attempts to indulge us without being too candid. Its open ended-ness begs you to question whether there was any real resolution or if the extensive, thought provoking process was worth it. But these are the raging questions that make you appreciate this complex piece of work even more. Anderson constructs a masculine ballet of words, between man and animal. Both men played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix (Quell) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Dodd). Phoenix channels much rage and aggression in a difficult role and Hoffman, conversely, channels a lot of charisma and wit (which may come across as easy) in an equally difficult role. Adams also gives one of the best performances of her career in this film; as the enigmatic, Peggy Dodd. With its brilliant editing and cinematography, not to mention the score that was a character of its own, the film proved to be a feast for the mind, eyes and ears. Next to Cloud Atlas, The Master is the most ambitious films of 2012, that’s expected to endure decades of analysis and reinterpretations. It is simply the year’s best. Expand
  39. 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
  40. Feb 28, 2013
    3
    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.
  41. Feb 5, 2013
    10
    Superbly crafted, The Master is the ultimate contemporary Avant-garde film. The complexity of the story and the lack of dramatic coherence and unity, combined with richly colored cinematography, Greenwood's brilliant score and Anderson's nearly unprecedented artistic talent rich in philosophically adventurous and thematically exploitative spirit, makes The Master a layered statementSuperbly crafted, The Master is the ultimate contemporary Avant-garde film. The complexity of the story and the lack of dramatic coherence and unity, combined with richly colored cinematography, Greenwood's brilliant score and Anderson's nearly unprecedented artistic talent rich in philosophically adventurous and thematically exploitative spirit, makes The Master a layered statement against conventional narrative and determined resolution. Therefore, it sustains its marvelous and enigmatic opacity and many may find it very difficult to deal with it. Nonetheless, even those who find it difficult to digest Anderson's lack of transparency and non-eventful story, should be able to find a lot to enjoy in, e.g. the masterclass performances. Besides the grand aesthetic values, the film also explores themes such as post-war American society, its psychological, emotional and moral structure, the western's world principles of freedom and the conflicting yet absorbing authority of the master, the loss, weirdness, sadness, mental illness, belief, accompanied with suggestive philosophical ideas such as the impossibility of reconstructing and ultimately, facing one' s past. Expand
  42. Jan 9, 2013
    3
    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.
  43. 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
  44. Jun 13, 2013
    0
    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.
  45. Apr 1, 2013
    10
    Excact same experience as There Will Be Blood. The first time you'll notice the amazing acting but the film with seem pretty empy. The next time you watch it you see all sorts of potential in it and the acting will seem even better. Every time you watch it after that it will seem rich and full, and you'll realize P. T. Anderson actually truelly knows what he is doing. My favorite movie ofExcact same experience as There Will Be Blood. The first time you'll notice the amazing acting but the film with seem pretty empy. The next time you watch it you see all sorts of potential in it and the acting will seem even better. Every time you watch it after that it will seem rich and full, and you'll realize P. T. Anderson actually truelly knows what he is doing. My favorite movie of the year, and DD Lewis was great but I wish the oscar went to Jaoquine. Did you know his brother was River Phoenix? I somehow didn't know that till recently. Anyways, I digress. Expand
  46. Nov 17, 2012
    8
    It's enigmatic trailer drove a lot of curious minds to the theatre in the hopes of gaining clarification on the mystery P.T. Anderson presented. What we left with instead were many more questions. The film is, undoubtedly, a puzzle. P.T. Anderson's usually straightforward, grounded style is eschewed in favor of a centrifuge of ideas and emotions all tossed around, reminiscent ofIt's enigmatic trailer drove a lot of curious minds to the theatre in the hopes of gaining clarification on the mystery P.T. Anderson presented. What we left with instead were many more questions. The film is, undoubtedly, a puzzle. P.T. Anderson's usually straightforward, grounded style is eschewed in favor of a centrifuge of ideas and emotions all tossed around, reminiscent of Slaughterhouse Five's blend of moments to create tone while still throwing the audience andy time it thinks it has a grasp on the meaning of the work. The film's "message", if it has one, doesn't become clear until long after one has left its seat, and the internal debates the film instigates will last even longer. With cinematography as sharp as There Will Be Blood and performances as stellar as Magnolia, P.T. Anderson's puzzle is a glorious one, and one well worth solving. Expand
  47. Apr 13, 2015
    9
    I personally consider this film better than There Will Be Blood. The decisions of filmmaking were extremely original and with purpose, the performances are perfect, the directing is top notch, the story is intriguing, complex and engaging. I am not even sure If i got the whole thing! But the things that i got made me love this movie. The use of music is perfect to set out the tone and theI personally consider this film better than There Will Be Blood. The decisions of filmmaking were extremely original and with purpose, the performances are perfect, the directing is top notch, the story is intriguing, complex and engaging. I am not even sure If i got the whole thing! But the things that i got made me love this movie. The use of music is perfect to set out the tone and the characters are very interesting and well written. Paul Thomas Anderson again brings us a masterful film that is misunderstanded now. Expand
  48. Apr 27, 2013
    8
    The power house performances from Phoenix and Hoffman help create some of the most mesmerizing scenes of 2012, and Paul Thomas Anderson has a great eye for scenery. However, I felt that the story ultimately meandered around the concept of cult and towards the final act fell apart for me, leaving a sense of unfulfillment. It is not his best film to date (that honor still goes to 'There WillThe power house performances from Phoenix and Hoffman help create some of the most mesmerizing scenes of 2012, and Paul Thomas Anderson has a great eye for scenery. However, I felt that the story ultimately meandered around the concept of cult and towards the final act fell apart for me, leaving a sense of unfulfillment. It is not his best film to date (that honor still goes to 'There Will Be Blood') but any fan of Paul Thomas Anderson will find greatness through the failures. Expand
  49. 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
  50. 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
  51. 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.
  52. Oct 10, 2012
    2
    FUMBLING-ON-THE-FIVE-YARD-LINE
  53. 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?!
  54. Sep 30, 2012
    3
    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.
  55. 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. Expand
  56. Oct 7, 2012
    8
    The Master is set in the early years of 1950, where I was instantly introduced to Freddie Sutton, played by an amazing performance from (Joaquin Phoenix), which I believe will win his first Oscar. In the first couple of scenes, I realize that Sutton is a very heavy alcoholic, who is also a war veteran, and does not have a stable mind. After getting to know Sutton
  57. Aug 14, 2014
    8
    It's an extremely slow movie which gives you no conclusion neither during the movie nor at the end. But what special about this movie is it's plot which is so deep and artistic that even you were getting bored with the slow pace but you will keep wondering what going to happen next. These are certain high moments as well. Joaquin phoenix is great as always.
  58. Oct 21, 2012
    10
    This has potential - as with Anderson's other spectacular films - to be one of the most important pieces of cinema in the past 50 years. It's a story of power, control, desire, moving on, and relapse. It's magnificently acted, terrifically scripted, and gorgeously shot. This is the epitome of electrifying filmmaking.
  59. Sep 24, 2012
    10
    This is by far the best film of the year! The Master has two incredible performances (Phoenix, Hoffman), beautiful cinematography, and a powerful message. This film will tear out your heart by subtly exposing people for who they are at their core. I believe this to be true for all of the masterpieces creating by Paul Thomas Anderson. Bravo, sir, bravo!
  60. 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
  61. Nov 23, 2012
    8
    Beautifully crafted, perfectly acted and a genius score to go with it. But, you cant help feel that the storyline was rather weak. you really want to connect with the characters and really get into the film, but it just doesn't seem to give as much as you want it to. Saying that it is still a brilliant piece of cinema!
  62. 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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  63. Oct 4, 2012
    2
    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.
  64. Oct 5, 2012
    1
    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 HoffmanThis 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
  65. Jul 2, 2013
    3
    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.
  66. 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.
  67. Sep 23, 2012
    2
    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 wasI 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
  68. Apr 11, 2013
    7
    This movie is interesting and it has something to say. Sometimes it is brilliant, sometimes not.
  69. Aug 1, 2013
    0
    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 atThis 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
  70. Jan 23, 2013
    10
    If you hated this but loved Tree of Life, you need your head examined. Both are prime examples of an auteur filmmaker getting the opportunity to make pictures that go against Hollywood norms for the sake of their own artistry. It's a miracle a movie like The Master can even get made when the entire industry's sole purpose is profit. A movie like this doesn't get made to please the masses.If you hated this but loved Tree of Life, you need your head examined. Both are prime examples of an auteur filmmaker getting the opportunity to make pictures that go against Hollywood norms for the sake of their own artistry. It's a miracle a movie like The Master can even get made when the entire industry's sole purpose is profit. A movie like this doesn't get made to please the masses. Paul Thomas Anderson deserves credit for, once again, writing and directing a film that is reminiscent of Kubrick or Welles. Anderson's films appeal to an audience that enjoys great acting and character over repetitious conventions in plot development. Only a handful of movies like this get made a year that end up getting a nationwide major theater release and audiences should be welcoming it, rather than admonish it. Don't bother with The Master if you honestly believe Skyfall is worthy of a Best Picture nomination. Expand
  71. 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.
  72. Oct 3, 2012
    2
    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.
  73. 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
  74. Dec 29, 2012
    0
    Critics have been desperately prostrating themselves before The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson
  75. Sep 24, 2012
    8
    Cinephiles are not animals. We are not part of the animal kingdom. This movie is not for animals. Animals will not enjoy this movie. Cinephiles will enjoy this movie.
  76. Sep 22, 2012
    0
    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 toI 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
  77. Jan 25, 2013
    10
    Just because it's unconventional doesn't mean it's bad. Audiences need to stop being repulsed at the thought of being challenged by a film. This is one of the best movies I've seen, because it has so many layers. I could go back many times and get more and more meaning out of it.
  78. Sep 22, 2012
    9
    This is a very polarizing film. I recall at least three people walking out. What does that mean? If you've come to watch a typical Hollywood movie, with typical storytelling and a predictable ending, I'm afraid you might be utterly disappointed. Possibly disgusted. This film isn't for you. It's creepy, uncomfortable, awkward, tense, exhilarating, vile, hilarious, somber, and beautiful. TheThis is a very polarizing film. I recall at least three people walking out. What does that mean? If you've come to watch a typical Hollywood movie, with typical storytelling and a predictable ending, I'm afraid you might be utterly disappointed. Possibly disgusted. This film isn't for you. It's creepy, uncomfortable, awkward, tense, exhilarating, vile, hilarious, somber, and beautiful. The lead actors deliver stunning performances. Their on-screen relationship is natural and believable. The supporting cast is also brilliant, there are no weak links in this chain. The unsettling, off-putting, gorgeous score from Jonny Greenwood is near perfect. The cinematography feels new, fresh, inspired. There is nothing else like this being done in major Hollywood productions. Without sounding pretentious, this film is a piece of art, first and foremost. If you want to see a beautiful film made by a director and actors at the top of their game, this just may be the film for you. Expand
  79. 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
  80. Oct 6, 2012
    8
    I believe this is a fine film.Forget everything except the interplay between "the Master" and his acolyte-Fred, each of whom is unforgetably portrayed. There is an underlying and far from explicit suggestion of homosexuality between the two men, plus the explicit portrayal of master-slave relationship. Fred has a family background of psychosis and alcoholism, while master demonstratesI believe this is a fine film.Forget everything except the interplay between "the Master" and his acolyte-Fred, each of whom is unforgetably portrayed. There is an underlying and far from explicit suggestion of homosexuality between the two men, plus the explicit portrayal of master-slave relationship. Fred has a family background of psychosis and alcoholism, while master demonstrates strong evidence of domination.The movie moves slowly which is its main failing, but disregard allbut the two men, their strengths and weaknesses. A strong Oscar contender for picture and best actor(s). Expand
  81. Sep 30, 2012
    0
    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.
  82. 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.
  83. 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
  84. Jul 13, 2013
    0
    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.
  85. May 2, 2015
    10
    If There Will Be Blood is the best movie that Paul Thomas Anderson has ever created, then The Master fills in the 1.b. category on the list of his movies. The Master is as artful and cerebral as its acclaimed predecessor, and one of the best movies of the decade so far.
  86. 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.)
  87. Mar 12, 2013
    10
    PT Anderson is one of the greatest talent's in American cinema, for one simple reason; He does not pander to the masses. This is a beautifully directed character study of a charasmatic man trying to levetate above animalistic biology and his antithesis, a man destined to succumb to them. At no point does Anderson give in to character exposition or reveal his intentions. The acting of bothPT Anderson is one of the greatest talent's in American cinema, for one simple reason; He does not pander to the masses. This is a beautifully directed character study of a charasmatic man trying to levetate above animalistic biology and his antithesis, a man destined to succumb to them. At no point does Anderson give in to character exposition or reveal his intentions. The acting of both male leads was sublime. Phoenix, doing enough in my opinion, to best Day Lewis in Lincoln. The Oscar snub for Best film and director was clearly a reaction to the Scientology basis, even though this is not strictly a film about Scientology. Expand
  88. 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
  89. Sep 23, 2012
    10
    A masterpiece and one of the best films of all time. If you dislike this film, then you shouldn't watch movies. Beautiful, haunting and flawlessly executed in all areas, it's a movie that will be analyzed and talked about for decades
  90. Sep 27, 2012
    9
    Hypnotic and mesmerizing. I felt entranced throughout many portions of this movie. Such a beautifully filmed piece of work; and the score by Jonny Greenwood was both jarring and unsettling, helping to maintain the unique observatory tone of this film. Is it possible for Joaquin and Philip to split the best actor Oscar? They keep you engaged at levels I've hardly experienced before (andHypnotic and mesmerizing. I felt entranced throughout many portions of this movie. Such a beautifully filmed piece of work; and the score by Jonny Greenwood was both jarring and unsettling, helping to maintain the unique observatory tone of this film. Is it possible for Joaquin and Philip to split the best actor Oscar? They keep you engaged at levels I've hardly experienced before (and Joaquin's physical presentation is astounding!). The film explores so many ideas and leaves so many questions unanswered I don't know where to begin. I definitely plan on seeing it again! Expand
  91. Sep 17, 2012
    10
    Another amazing epic Paul Thomas Anderson film where every facet of the film is extremely dynamic. It is very dense and there's a lot to take in whether it be the tense, grinding score, the gorgeous shot choices (punctuated by vibrant color and detail in 70mm), or knock out performances from the lead males. The physical work that Joaquin does is outstanding, I have not seen an actor asAnother amazing epic Paul Thomas Anderson film where every facet of the film is extremely dynamic. It is very dense and there's a lot to take in whether it be the tense, grinding score, the gorgeous shot choices (punctuated by vibrant color and detail in 70mm), or knock out performances from the lead males. The physical work that Joaquin does is outstanding, I have not seen an actor as fully committed and free in a long time, perhaps since Daniel Day in There Will Be Blood. Paul's most interesting film in terms of structure/ editing, jumping through time willy nilly, perhaps mirroring the teachings of Lancaster Dodd or perhaps entering the mind of Freddie continually going back to where he is stuck (the war/ lost loves). The relationship between Dodd and Quell is tense and at times adorable, they are so in love and desire so much to have what the other has: Lancaster wants to act on impulse and not be controlled by any "Master" and Freddie whats to break this insane cycle he seems to find himself trapped in. This film will absolutely take many more viewings and I believe it will continue to grow in my mind as PT's best film (potentially). Expand
  92. 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
  93. Feb 27, 2013
    8
    I consider Anderson's "The Master" to be one of his weakest narrative films. Yet, Anderson's weakest film can still be considered as a great film when compared to other film maker's works. While Phoenix and Hoffman's performances were phenomenal, they really out shined their supporting cast. The screenplay and plot were above average in comparison to other great original screenplays suchI consider Anderson's "The Master" to be one of his weakest narrative films. Yet, Anderson's weakest film can still be considered as a great film when compared to other film maker's works. While Phoenix and Hoffman's performances were phenomenal, they really out shined their supporting cast. The screenplay and plot were above average in comparison to other great original screenplays such as "Amour" or "Django Unchained." What really stood out in this film were the technical elements. The directing, music, editing, and cinematography had a unique Paul Thomas Anderson signature. This same signature that brought some of the best films of the 2000s. Anderson is, in my opinion, one of the greatest auteurs of his generation. It is difficult to meet the standards that you have set yourself. I'm still a fan!! Expand
  94. Nov 4, 2014
    10
    The Master is not only Paul Thomas Anderson's best work but it is also one of the very best art films in cinema history. It is shot beautifully, acted superbly, written and directed in the best possible way. No, it is not a type of film that can be comprehended just by first viewing; it requires revisiting like 2001: A Space Odyssey. This film divides the audiences into two differentThe Master is not only Paul Thomas Anderson's best work but it is also one of the very best art films in cinema history. It is shot beautifully, acted superbly, written and directed in the best possible way. No, it is not a type of film that can be comprehended just by first viewing; it requires revisiting like 2001: A Space Odyssey. This film divides the audiences into two different reactions; they love it or they hate it. Not just mainstream audiences but also to critics and film lovers (which doesn't happen so often). If you are a serious audience who appreciate pure art-house cinema, this will be a wonderful gift for you. If that's not, this might be a nightmare; a very terrible one. Expand
  95. Jul 22, 2015
    10
    Superb acting is in this film - for viewers who love to see actors tear themselves apart with a role, here it is. Phoenix and Hoffman are at the pinnacle of their respective abilities. Phoenix, playing Freddie Quell draws you in the minute you see his creased up face answering questions from a psychological evaluation post WWII. Hoffman, the deranged but maybe even genius Lancaster DoddSuperb acting is in this film - for viewers who love to see actors tear themselves apart with a role, here it is. Phoenix and Hoffman are at the pinnacle of their respective abilities. Phoenix, playing Freddie Quell draws you in the minute you see his creased up face answering questions from a psychological evaluation post WWII. Hoffman, the deranged but maybe even genius Lancaster Dodd does exactly what he always does - makes you fall dearly in love for twisted and maniacal men. And to give due credit to Paul Thomas Anderson, a director who literally can't have a bad idea; this is one of my favorite directors and this movie is what sparked my interest even more than it ever was in method-acting, the Daniel Day-Lewis-esque idea. With both Philip and Joaquin getting an Academy Award nomination, Amy Adams must also receive due credit and recognition for playing the far-seeing Peggy, whose eye's seem to be peering through people rather than at them. She received a nomination as well. I love this film and these actors. Watch it! Expand
  96. Oct 21, 2012
    1
    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.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
  97. Nov 10, 2012
    8
    I would not recommend for mainstream movie-goers. It's a visually impressive display of equally impressive performances, but the lack of a traditional narrative will likely alienate most audiences. This is not a "normal" movie by any means.
  98. Mar 3, 2013
    10
    This film plays more like a fevered dream than like realist history, so people expecting some sort of conventional narrative may quickly lose patience with this movie. They may also be missing something special. In addition to being glowing symbols more than they are conventional characters, neither Freddie Quell (Jochain Phoenix) or Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffmann) is especiallyThis film plays more like a fevered dream than like realist history, so people expecting some sort of conventional narrative may quickly lose patience with this movie. They may also be missing something special. In addition to being glowing symbols more than they are conventional characters, neither Freddie Quell (Jochain Phoenix) or Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffmann) is especially likable. But the performances suggest emotional and historical truth in ways that are often moving, without pretension or sentimentality. Freddie Quell is a figure of the American male id, post World War II: violent, sensuous, insatiable. He's driven to drink drafts of American industry to quench his burning: the fuel of torpedoes, the fluids of photography, institutional cleaners, all mixed with the fruits of the earth. Dodd, "The Master," is a new-model super ego who might tame and direct Quell. Dodd is smug as a baronial magnate, as full of literary pretensions as Tom Sawyer; his resolve is borrowed from his steely wife (Amy Adams). Hoffman's Dodd, contrary to rumors about the film, is not a charismatic, psychological autocrat, but is wounded, defensive, and dreamy. He lives out a fantasy of priestly insight and command, but few people really believe him; he gets the benefit of many doubts. As Quell is drawn to Dodd's fantasies of mind over history, Dodd is drawn to Quell's energy and chemical inventiveness. Together they suggest different means of achieving atomic-age versions of the old American goal of obliterating the past and standing alone in a new present. They also suggest the polar tensions of raw animal desire and magisterial fantasies of triumph present in many American men. Quell's desire to consume, dominate and love the earth (Quell is obsessed with a woman sculpted in sand) meets a rhetoric of platonic self-mastery in Dodd. The preposterous incongruity of the men and their desires does not result in a drama of control and exploitation, which audiences may expect, but in inchoate attempts at mutual understanding in several scenes that are more humanly intimate and dramatically resonant than most sexual episodes in movies. The 70mm "real film" photography in this movie is amazing; many of the film's strongest moments, including those with people, are wordless. An irony of the film is that lush and magnificent nature (the Pacific ocean, the Arizona desert, the San Francisco Bay) is often overlooked by Quell and Dodd in their self involutions. Nature in American writing often becomes a symbol of self; it automatically is for these two. But nature may have the last word, in an ending that is unexpectedly funny and tender. I rate this as one of the best American movies. Expand
  99. Sep 30, 2012
    1
    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.
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.