Friday, September 21, 2012

Movie Review: "The Master"

I still don't know what The Master is about -- sure, on face value it's a 1950's set story of a drifter who becomes enraptured by a charismatic religious leader, who has shades of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, but what was this entire film about?  In the film, writer/director, Paul Thomas Anderson, does not try to dissect Scientology, it's not even called Scientology in the film, but the Cause.  If it was a film trying to make a case, either for or against the religion, it might have made more sense, but the religion is merely the impetus for the two primary characters, Dodd, the L. Ron Hubbard-impersonator played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the violent and unpredictable drifter, Freddie, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix.

The performances are real strong, in particular that of Phoenix, who has an animalistic quality to his Freddie Quell that is both frightening, and pitiful, as well, the 70mm cinematography is stunning, but the film makes little sense.  Here's the problem with the film, too much of it is introspective, and not enough of it is clarified for the audience to even know what is truly going on.  Why does Freddie see every woman naked in one scene?  Sure, some introspection is great in a film, leaving certain things up to audience interpretation, but when the entirety of the film's story is open to interpretation as to why we sat through it for nearly 2 and a 1/2 hours, that's when I lose interest.

Perhaps I am not scholarly enough to understand, which is why I don't like The Master.  It's a well made film that is simply there.  It did nothing for me.

I give The Master an F

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