The Master

The Master Image
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 43 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 466 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: In the years after WWII, an American intellectual creates a religion. When he meets a troubled drifter, he invites the man to help him spread the new faith. As their congregation increases, the drifter begins to question the religion he once accepted and the mentor who gave his life direction.

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 43
  2. Negative: 1 out of 43
  1. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Sep 13, 2012
    100
    It is a movie about the lure and folly of greatness that comes as close as anything I've seen recently to being a great movie. There will be skeptics, but the cult is already forming. Count me in.
  2. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Sep 20, 2012
    100
    The Master is brilliantly, wholly itself for a little more than half of its 137 minutes. Then it chases its own tail a bit and settles for being merely a fascinating metaphoric father-son relationship reaching endgame. It may not all "work," but most of it's remarkable.
  3. 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.
  4. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Sep 10, 2012
    90
    On reflection, and despite these cavils, we should bow to The Master, because it gives us so much to revere, starting with the image that opens the film and recurs right up to the end-the turbid, blue-white wake of a ship. There goes the past, receding and not always redeemable, and here comes the future, waiting to churn us up.
  5. Reviewed by: Charlie Schmidilin
    Aug 17, 2012
    83
    Even amongst its most wrenching scenes of unfettered anger and broken loyalty, a volatile sensuality nonetheless invades every frame of Paul Thomas Anderson's arresting The Master.
  6. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Sep 14, 2012
    75
    Yet, for all of The Master's laudable elements, it falls short of greatness for one simple reason: the storytelling is unspectacular.
  7. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Sep 18, 2012
    25
    Call The Master whatever you want, but lobotomized catatonia from what I call the New Hacks can never take the place of well-made narrative films about real people that tell profound stories for a broader and more sophisticated audience. Fads come and go, but as Walter Kerr used to say, "I'll yell tripe whenever tripe is served."

See all 43 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 78 out of 161
  2. Negative: 55 out of 161
  1. 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 takeAnother 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
  2. 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-makerThis 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
  3. Sep 28, 2012
    9
    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 WillThis 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
  4. Dec 9, 2013
    6
    Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" represents everything a challenging movie should be compellingly dissonant performances, intentionallyPaul 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. Expand
  5. 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.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. Expand
  6. Mar 3, 2013
    2
    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 JoaquinWhat 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, Expand
  7. Nov 21, 2012
    0
    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 3I 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 '.
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See all 161 User Reviews

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