User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 406 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 71 out of 406

Review this movie

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  1. Nov 13, 2014
    "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. Expand
  2. Nov 4, 2014
    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 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
  3. Sep 5, 2014
    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 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.
  4. Sep 1, 2014
    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.
  5. Aug 18, 2014
    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 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
  6. Aug 14, 2014
    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.
  7. Jul 30, 2014
    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 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
  8. Feb 9, 2014
    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. Expand
  9. 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.
  10. Jan 10, 2014
    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
  11. 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.
  12. Dec 9, 2013
    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.
  13. Nov 10, 2013
    strong and smart perfomances, this is a movie teach you how can you change, and the most important the script is something than you never forget......
  14. 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.
  15. Sep 7, 2013
    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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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
  18. Jul 23, 2013
    this movie is not for people whom are not movie lovers. this artwork is a masterpiece and actually PTA is The Master. acts are brilliant. Hoffman is great as always and this is Joaquin's best act ever. along side with The Holy Motors, the best movies of 2012... if you know about movies and PTA, this comment is unnecessary and you already ignored the low scored reviews.
  19. Jul 21, 2013
    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 not obscurantist poetic. Expand
  20. 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.
  21. Jul 9, 2013
    Paul thomas Anderson has once again made a movie that almost reach perfection; not only because of the beautiful cinematography, the unique soundtrack, and the amazing actings. But because of the fact that it's strenght comes from the little intense moments, and the deepness of the characters; not because of a story. The screenplay is great as it is. It is a proof that a film doesn't need a complex storyline to be great. Expand
  22. 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.
  23. Jun 25, 2013
    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".
  24. 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.
  25. 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?
  26. Apr 27, 2013
    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 Will Be Blood') but any fan of Paul Thomas Anderson will find greatness through the failures. Expand
  27. Apr 20, 2013
    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.
  28. Apr 11, 2013
    This movie is interesting and it has something to say. Sometimes it is brilliant, sometimes not.
  29. Apr 1, 2013
    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 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
  30. 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.
  31. Mar 20, 2013
    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
  32. Mar 16, 2013
    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.
  33. 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.
  34. Mar 15, 2013
    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
  35. Mar 12, 2013
    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 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
  36. Mar 10, 2013
    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.
  37. 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. Expand
  38. Mar 3, 2013
    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 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.
  39. 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.
  40. Mar 3, 2013
    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 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
  41. 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,
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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
  45. Feb 27, 2013
    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 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
  46. Feb 26, 2013
    The Master symbolizes our inner fight. Our friend, ruler or foe. Unexplained human reaction explained by ghosts of the past. Group that practice no sensitivity judges the stranger as feeble-minded but they all envy him on his freedom. People create conditional love unconsciously... Beautiful pervaded philosophical work.
  47. Feb 14, 2013
    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. 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
  48. Feb 12, 2013
    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 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.
  49. Feb 5, 2013
    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 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
  50. Feb 3, 2013
    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
  51. Jan 25, 2013
    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.
  52. Jan 23, 2013
    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
  53. Jan 22, 2013
    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
  54. Jan 17, 2013
    This film is genius. but lacks a story and ultimately looses the audience with it , this film was SELF INDULGENT, and didn't speak to the audience its too far ahead of its time i' m sure in 20 years it will be voted one of the best films.
    The acting was definitely down the Oscar path but the cinematography and the screen play feel like they belonged in a gallery or a art house book. I
    love this sort of film but I just think the master missed the mark.

    a true 'marmite' film it or hate it
  55. 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
  56. 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.
  57. Dec 29, 2012
    Critics have been desperately prostrating themselves before The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson
  58. 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
  59. Dec 23, 2012
    I saw the movie at the Venice Film Festival. I loved it: deep, well directed and acted in an extraordinary way. I found great interpretation of P. S. Hoffman.
  60. Dec 20, 2012
    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
  61. 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
  62. 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
  63. Nov 23, 2012
    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!
  64. Nov 22, 2012
    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. 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
  65. Nov 21, 2012
    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? 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
  66. 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 '.
  67. Nov 19, 2012
    Dustin Hoffamn and Joaquin Phoenix are remarkable
  68. Nov 18, 2012
    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 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
  69. Nov 17, 2012
    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 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
  70. Nov 10, 2012
    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.
  71. Nov 1, 2012
    I see a lot of people seem to think this movie is pointless (an accusation never thrown at movies with explosions or CGI) which is sad because this is the most substantive movie in many years. The elephant in the room here is religion. The easiest thing to take away from this film is exploration of religions positive and negatives effect. A lot of people wanted this to be a scientology takedown and found themselves wanting to look away when they realized the only criticisms coming their way could also be applied to their religion. Expand
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. 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
  75. Oct 21, 2012
    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.
  76. Oct 14, 2012
    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.
  77. Oct 10, 2012
  78. Oct 8, 2012
    This is my favorite movie (yes of all time). I'm not sure who should take credit for it either. Joaquin Phoenix had a breathtaking performance, along with Philip Seymour Hoffman. Paul Thomas Anderson did a fantastic job directing, especially during the single shot realism takes. He chose to use an old Panavision camera and shot in 70 mm and it looks better than any other movie that I have ever seen. The DOP Mihai Malaimare Jr. did a fantastic and notable job on this film as well. A masterpiece. Expand
  79. Oct 7, 2012
    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
  80. Oct 7, 2012
    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 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
  81. Oct 6, 2012
    An unusual, atmospheric film. The story seems to start in the middle and end a little later in the middle. It is a series of questions that ends in a question. Joaquin Phoenix really inhabits the role of Freddie. Just sitting in a theatre I was uneasy from the violent rage he projected. In the final analysis, it pleases because it leaves one thinking about the film, the characters and the meaning of it all. Expand
  82. Oct 6, 2012
    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 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
  83. Oct 5, 2012
    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 my seat it was that thought provoking and powerful. Expand
  84. 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
  85. 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.
  86. j30
    Oct 4, 2012
    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."
  87. 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
  88. 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.
  89. Oct 3, 2012
    This film was just spectacular and Paul Thomas Anderson continues to impress over and over again. For my full review check out:
  90. Oct 2, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Submerged below the apparent, surface theme of animalism vs perfectionism are several levels of human emotional and pragmatic intentions with the deepest level hidden by the murky waters of societal taboos. Framed by succulent cinematography and an appropriately disturbing musical score, the tormented souls interact in dances of self protection and manipulations of others. In the shallow depths of this art piece we are explicitly allowed to view the baseness of Quell and the calmness of Dodd. But intertwining with the surface are the contradictions within both character's personas. Dodd wants Quell as protege but also as guinea pig. Quell desires some freedom from his desires and is constantly thwarted in his efforts. However, it is the intertwining next level below where the central, deepest theme flows. Submerged (suppressed?) below in the psyche of both men is a desire unspoken during the mid twentieth century. A desire revealed during their last meeting. A desire seen suppressed in previous scenes by the standards of the day which embed themselves within the characters. FULL SPOILER ALERT: the opening scene is full of partially clad men of the navy with a woman made of sand to defile. We are not privy to the initial meeting of Quell and Dodd but Dodd makes reference to Quell being a scoundrel. During "processing" Dodd asks about hanging out in bus stations and sex with family members. What is he getting at? When Dodd dances and sings in Philadelphia, the women from Quell Expand
  91. 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..
  92. Sep 30, 2012
    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
  93. 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.
  94. 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.
  95. 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.
  96. Sep 30, 2012
    Was curious as to why the reviews are either "OH NO" or "MUST GO", and upon viewing, now know why. This film is aimed at a very small segment of the population, dealing with heavy philosophical issues, existential angst, man's need for ultimate truth, manifest destiny and the weaknesses of the human spirit. If the names Sartre, Kafka, Tolstoy, Wilber, Dyer and Hubbard mean nothing to you; and the terms Existentialism, Integral Theory, Dianetics and New Age as well, chances are you will hate this film. And you won't be alone, in that probably 2% of the population has even heard of these concepts.

    Even with that philosophical base, this is a gritty, tedious, disturbing film that deftly immerses you in the pain such ideological pursuits inevitably produce. It is a rich pain, but painful nonetheless.

    In a world where "Frankenweenie" is about to come out, and American Idol is the top show, little wonder many will despise this film. But for a select few, this is a must see.
  97. 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
  98. Sep 29, 2012
    This is just as brilliant as any other PTA film... and it even provides more food for thought. The fact that so many people found this "stupid and pointless" while they the loved Inception just goes to show you that all you need to satisfy most movie goers is a couple guns and explosions.
  99. Sep 28, 2012
    This is a great movie. It's as captivating as any of PTA's work but maybe in different ways. This film isn't about competition like There Will Be Blood but more about a teacher/mentor relationship unlike any other. It would be easy to write Phoenix's character as a pure audience surrogate but instead we get an unreliable source who could actually benefit from guidance. Shot beautifully, there are enough breathtaking shots that would worth seeing it a second time but in 70mm if given the chance. The performances are also spectacular. Unsurprising Hoffman is the star here. He's able to create a charisma that makes you understand why people are drawn to him and yet you can see the gears in his head moving. His character is thinker whereas Planview was an animal in the way Hoffman detests. Phoenix is excellent as well, bringing more to his character than just his surface mannerisms. Adams is also very good. Expand
  100. 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

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.