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The Master

It's a fairly safe bet that The Master will still be watched and discussed decades from now, when most of the movies it competed against this awards season are long forgotten.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, an alcoholic navy veteran who, when the second world war ends, finds himself adrift and broken. He falls in with an organisation, dubbed "The Cause", led by Philip Seymour Hoffman's charismatic Lancaster Dodd. Dodd is constructing a cultish movement based around faddish belief systems, mixing and matching from a variety of sources; a little past-life regression here, a little psychoanalysis there. Quell is used by Dodd as acolyte, muscle and raw material, the crude ex-serviceman a perfect display of the type of destructive, selfish, uncontrollable personality Dodd aims to eradicate with his "processing". In a world still in postwar flux, »

- Phelim O'Neill

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