Movie Review: The Master

Last night my boyfriend and I sat down and watched a little seen indie film called “The Sound of My Voice”. It’s a new age thriller about cults and time travel. It was pretty rad. We woke up this morning and decided to go see “The Master”. We didn’t intend a weekend of awesome cult movies, but sometimes cool things just happen. Like when you find a $5 bill in your jeans, or your last gummy bear is a red one.

Paul Anderson is one of the best working directors today, hands down. He has come into his own with this film. It is quiet, understated, tense and uncomfortable. He tackles the idea of “How things ought to be” from the point of view of people who don’t quite fit in. He takes outsiders and lets them have their own world, a world where questions are asked and answered by the same people. A world where anger isn’t acceptable, yet it bubbles just beneath the surface of every conversation, glance, wedding, dinner party or walk down the street. Most important – this film was elegant, and original.

Everyone attached to “The Master” was fantastic. It is almost needless to say that Philip Seymour Hoffman is great since he is always great, but I’ll say it. He was great. He plays the (sort of) title role in the film. He is Lancaster Dodd –  the charismatic, clever leader of a group called The Cause. When a drunk Joaquin Phoenix (Freddy Quell) quite literally stumbles into their lives it disrupts their otherwise perfect life. And let me define drunk here. Freddy Quell doesn’t just drink whiskey or wine, he drinks whatever might be handy – Lysol straight from the bottle, or possibly a concoction that consists of paint thinner and lemons. He also has a slight anger problem that shows itself in the beating up of strangers, masturbating at the beach and banging his body against a wall. He has some serious violent tendencies and impulse control issues. He is mean, yet in the hands of the very talented and probably real life crazy Joaquin Phoenix you feel sympathy for him. You are rooting for him.

Dodd and Quell quickly develop a relationship that might mirror a father/son relationship with Dodd is the older, wiser father and Freddy is the fuck up son. They need each other. Dodd needs to feel “in charge” and Freddy needs to feel loved, and useful. This played great against the foil of Amy Adams perfect little housewife who, for me, was the real star of this movie. She plays Dodds long pregnant wife who is the real Master. She is a quiet puppeteer who controls her husband, her family and even The Cause.

The movie tackles a lot in it’s 2.5 hours, and I don’t want to give anything away here so I’ll just say this. Go see it. Go with an open mind. Go see this movie. This movie is awesome. You are getting sleepy… very sleepy.

If Paul Anderson has a cult like following then I count myself as part of it. I will buy a ticket to see anything he does. I was nervous about seeing this film because I didn’t think anything could be as good as “There Will Be Blood”, but I was wrong. This film is as good, and in some ways better. Anderson gets better with every film.  Give me a purple robe, some white sneakers and a tub of popcorn and point me in the direction of The Master. Who’s bringing the Kool-Aide?

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