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The Master (2012)

R  |   |  Drama  |  21 September 2012 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 95,374 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 395 user | 540 critic | 43 from

A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader.

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Title: The Master (2012)

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 102 wins & 142 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
V.A. Doctor
Rorschach Doctor
Sarah Shoshana David ...
V.A. Nurse
V.A. Doctor / Interview
Matt Hering ...
V.A. Patient
Dan Anderson ...
V.A. Patient
V.A. Patient
V.A. Patient
Patrick Wilder ...
V.A. Patient (as Patrick Biggs)
Ryan Curtis ...
V.A. Patient
Jay Laurence ...
V.A. Patient
Abraxas Adams ...
V.A. Patient
Tina Bruna ...
Portrait Customer
Portrait Customer


Returning from Navy service in World War II, Freddie Quell drifts through a series of breakdowns. Finally he stumbles upon a cult which engages in exercises to clear emotions and he becomes deeply involved with them. Written by Alan Young, edit Hal Issen

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »



Release Date:

21 September 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Master  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$736,311 (USA) (14 September 2012)


$16,377,274 (USA) (15 March 2013)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


James Franco was rumoured to be linked for the role of Freddie Quell. See more »


When Freddie starts undergoing processing at Helen's house, Lancaster Dodd has a handkerchief in his left hand but as the camera switches to a different angle, the handkerchief has shifted to his right hand. See more »


Freddie Quell: What do you do?
Lancaster Dodd: I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist and a theoretical philosopher. But above all, I am a man, a hopelessly inquisitive man, just like you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After its title, this film has no further opening credits. See more »


On a Slow Boat to China
Written by Frank Loesser
Performed by Philip Seymour Hoffman
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The Master of his fate
27 September 2012 | by (Penang, Malaysia / Chicago, USA) – See all my reviews

Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" is a puzzling, often bewildering film. Very few films have left me shaken and stirred and still leave me wondering, "What was that all about?" I can't say that I hated the ride. It is, quite simply, a remarkable film from one of America's best filmmakers today. This film is not for everyone, however.

The film's center plot; the one about self-described nuclear physicist, philosopher and professor Lancaster Dodd and his "organization" "The Cause" - as seen from the point of view from a shell-shocked psychotic drunk Freddie Quell. During the course of the film Lancaster and Freddie bond somewhat with Lancaster progressing his latest works.

The main performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman are superb, and should warrant both of them Academy Award Nominations for Best Actor. Both of them. Phoenix is literally on fire here, his quirky mannerisms, twitching lips, unforgiving, unsettling eyes and ferocious anger and voice had me on the edge every time I see him on screen. Hoffman also is more subtle, though we see growing anger and rage whenever he feels that his work is being threatened. He can be classy, charismatic, and when threatened, loses all of that and becomes about as desperate as Freddie. Brilliant work by both actors. Watch the scene where Lancaster gets through to Freddie, or the harrowing scene where both of them are in jail cells. Special mention to Amy Adams who, while not really standing out, gives off a peculiar and somewhat sinister aura whenever she's on the screen.

Anderson's solid screenplay and his concentrated direction bring the goods. There seems to be a pattern about Anderson's last three films including this one. Both "Punch-Drunk Love" and "There Will Be Blood" featured lead characters who are extremely lonely and prone to snap to anger. "The Master" is somewhat a bit of both, where the lonely man can be both psychotic without reason and yet there are scenes which show he is, after all, a man. Some very well written lines ("If you can find peace without looking up to a master, any master...") meshed with some really great cinematography by Mihai Malaimare Jr. that brings nice color tones to the 1950 production design. Complementing all of this is Jonny Greenwood's eerie, dissonant score which makes the movie all the more odd, unsettling, and yet compelling to watch.

Eventually, both men in the movie are the masters of their own fate, and Anderson his own. It may move some and it may turn away others, but this is a fascinating watch nonetheless. "The Master" is one of 2012's very best films.

Overall: 91%

93 of 151 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Performance of the Decade so far? PolythenePaul
Boring ...opaque, vague, dull and great for mental masturbation janandersonco
This film IS NOT about Scientology! tph890
'Slow Boat to China' and homosexual overtones... strikefire83
2nd veiwing better? snoochieboocher1978
Only 7.1??!!!! JoeSchmoe19941997
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