The Master

The Master Image
Metascore
86

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

User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 459 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: 77 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. 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 shotThe 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. 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 stopPaul 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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  4. 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 quiteThe 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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  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. Oct 27, 2012
    0
    Pointless. While this movie has nice cinematography and good acting, it is not tied together by a plot. So, I found myself staring atPointless. 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. Expand

See all 161 User Reviews

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