“The Master” Film Review

by Luca (’16)

This movie is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who masterfully made films such as “There Will be Blood” and “Magnolia”, the fastest four hours I have ever sat through. He is no doubt a fantastic talent, a producing-writing-directing type who has never made a bad movie, and has never succumbed to making popular entertainment. However, this one makes all his others look straight shooting and sensible, it’s bizarrely constructed plot blowing your mind from beginning to end. The movie starts with Joaquin Phoenix being bad in the Pacific during the tail end of WWII. We start to see his skewed habits as he drinks torpedo fuel, associates all Rorschach tests with sex, and goes off on rampages, drunk on paint thinner while he throws crystal and steals valuables. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is incredible. His eyes and hunchback-like stance are intense. He channels insanity and is utterly magnetizing, belittling even a messianic Phillip Seymour Hoffman who plays an L. Ron Hubbard character called The Master. The Master creates a religion based on his commandments that he makes up as he goes. Processing is used to strip the human mind of its animal instincts. Sounds almost rational, right? Well Processing can also cure Leukemia, abolish the nuclear threat, and turn the world into a bunch of peace-loving, flower-showering hippies. However, at 137 minutes, this movie does over stay its welcome with too much mumbo jumbo about Processing. Joaquin Phoenix’s character also has a past that is almost too screwed up to be believable. His lousy life is shown in quick exhibition while the rest of the movie sags in the middle with its own weight and high concept. Scientology is not the subject of this film. It is mostly focused on Joaquin Phoenix, while The Master is only a character he runs into, not as important as he is built up to be. After the entire movie, you are thoroughly confused. The plot seems almost inconclusive, the ending just happens and although this movie is really good, it is not as traditional as I thought it would be which is a good thing. It does keep you thinking and talking about it for you a very long time. It also fills you with the unpleasant feeling that you are not smart enough to get what’s going on. I guess you could call it a little pretentious in the way it comes off but not every movie needs be easy to follow and quick to understand. This movie is good but not bad for the reasons I didn’t love it and still a movie you should see. If without merit, it is still beautiful in 70 mm that pops with color like a field of tulips.