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The Master (2012)

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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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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 76 wins & 179 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
V.A. Doctor
Mike Howard ...
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?


Reese Witherspoon was originally approached to play Peggy Dodd, but turned the role that later went to Amy Adams. However, Witherspoon would go on to star in Paul Thomas Anderson's next film Inherent Vice (2014) (See Inherent Vice (2014)) See more »


At the end of the first "processing" scene between Master and Freddie, the ashtray switches from empty to suddenly full of cigarette butts. See more »


Freddie Quell: I believe, in your profession, it's called... 'Nostalgia'.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The DVD special-features menu has a reversed image of Joaquin Phoenix's face. You can tell by the scar above his lip. See more »


References Barry Lyndon (1975) See more »


The Deep Boo Sea
Written by Winston Sharples
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The Master in action.
8 August 2012 | by (Los Angeles USA) – See all my reviews

I was fortunate enough to see this film much earlier than most. To me it seems like Anderson is really hitting his stride with this one. It was odd to me that upon exiting the theater the thing that I wondered about most of all is what the hell is he going to do next!

The Master is not an easy movie to sit through, and at times you don't even know what the movie wants. But then you realize that the movie doesn't want anything. All it asks is for you to observe. More so than his earlier films, "The Master" and "There Will Be Blood" really venture into the realm of the film as being a purely cinematic presentation of a life. Anderson doesn't pass judgment or any point of view, he merely stretches the canvas which allows his characters to speak for themselves.

Yes, there is a beginning, middle and an end, but is there? Do we really have a sense of catharsis at the end of "There Will Be Blood"? or do we simply understand "man" a little better?

Anderson insisted, as I'm sure he would say the same for this film, that "There Will Be Blood" wasn't a metaphor for anything. It was what it was. No hidden meaning, no sophisticated and often formulaic subtext. It's simply man. As Hoffman's character says in the trailer for "The Master" - "But above all, I am a man".

The movie deals with an interesting idea of the leader vs. the soldier, master vs. slave. It breaks down the anatomy of a relationship so you may interpret it in any way you'd like.

It's beautifully shot on 65/70mm film which is the way I saw it and the way I recommend for you to see it if you get a chance to. Feels almost as if Anderson is giving the finger to the digital revolution by shooting his film on a resolution so high that digital can only dream of getting there in about ten years or so.

The acting and the dialog is superb as you'd expect. Phoenix and Hoffman are on a different level here, especially Phoenix in a role of a life time. There are definitely times in this film that he completely disappears into that role. There is also some great supporting work from Laura Dern and others.

It would be difficult to place this film in his body of work. More than anything it feels like the natural continuation of what he started with "There Will Be Blood". Not to say that he will continue on this path but just that this is definitely a more narrowly focused film than some of his earlier ensemble work.

I found it to be less engaging than some of his other work and yet there was never a dull moment. You're always on your toes, trying to understand what's going on and where the movie is leading you.

It really is simply, just like man, a fascinating piece of work.

441 of 631 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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'Nothing happens', 'no plot development' etc. LeSamourai86
Performance of the Decade so far? PolythenePaul
Boring ...opaque, vague, dull and great for mental masturbation janandersonco
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This film IS NOT about Scientology! tph890
2nd veiwing better? snoochieboocher1978
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