Metascore
86

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

User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 448 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: 75 out of 159
  2. Negative: 56 out of 159
  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 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 ifThis 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
  4. 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 anVery beautifully acted, a really great cinematographic achievement, however i do think this movie is really difficult to connect with as an audience. 6/10 Expand
  5. 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. JoaquinWhether 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
  6. Sep 23, 2012
    2
    I sat through this movie for almost 2 hours wondering where it was going and when. Maybe it was to artsy or just over my head. Whatever itI sat through this movie for almost 2 hours wondering where it was going and when. Maybe it was to artsy or just over my head. Whatever it was, I haven't been so confused about a movie since Memento, even Memento made you think. The master will probably win an Oscar, it only made me feel like I was punked. Expand
  7. Sep 27, 2012
    0
    This was one of the worst movies we have ever seen. There are only 2 other movies we disliked more than this one! The acting was pretty goodThis was one of the worst movies we have ever seen. There are only 2 other movies we disliked more than this one! The acting was pretty good but seemed like a waste on such an absolutely terrible movie. Nearly walked out 3 times. If it wasn't for one of our friends sons who actually liked it we would have walked out. He was just released from a mental institute on Monday and hadn't seen a movie in over a year; he loved the seen of Joaquin masturbating to beach sand (no joke). He likes animals a little too much. We will not be hanging out with him again. Don't waste your money on this Church of Scientology bunk. Notice how this movie started off strong in early ratings, now that more people have seen it the user score has dropped significantly! Expand

See all 159 User Reviews

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