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The Master (2012)

R  |   |  Drama  |  21 September 2012 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 95,667 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 396 user | 540 critic | 43 from Metacritic.com

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)

The Master (2012) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 75 wins & 169 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?


During the jail cell scene, Joaquin Phoenix breaks a real toilet. His actions were entirely improvised. Due to the historical past of the building where the scene took place, the toilet was considered "historical." Joaquin had no intentions to break the toilet, nor did he think it was possible. See more »


When Freddie is first seen visiting Doris' house, aluminum stick-on numbers are visible in the establishing shot, giving a street number. These numbers didn't' come onto the market until the 1960s. See more »


Peggy Dodd: This is pointless. He isn't interested in getting better.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Featured in Half in the Bag: Django Unchained and 2012 Recap (2012) See more »


Baton Sparks
from "48 Responses To Polymorphia"
Written by Jonny Greenwood
Performed by The Aukso Chamber Orchestra
Courtesy of Unreliable Ltd.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Phoenix is the performance of the year! Anderson excels once again
12 September 2012 | by (New Jersey) – See all my reviews

The Master is absolutely magnetic, orchestrated brilliantly by writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson and helmed by the commanding turns of Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Anderson has never been a director that makes a film for everyone to enjoy. In the vein of auteur directors like Terrence Malick, David Lynch, and Michael Haneke, Anderson's films aren't necessarily the most accessible despite the seeming mainstream status. Films like Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), and There Will Be Blood (2007) are reflective, tensional, studies of human behavior, all things that the average film-goer most of the time will not embrace. In The Master, Anderson constructs, absolutely magnificently I might add, two dynamic, real, and tangible men that the audience can both imagine knowing, loving, and loathe. It's the writing masterpiece of the year.

Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman) gets the best character blueprints of any player to interpret. Hands down, the sharpest and best written character of the film is purely Lancaster. Anderson concentrates on his motivation and responses, giving him an arc that the audience can both easily and willingly travel with him. Hoffman's natural talents as an actor and finding himself in a character are showcased here with intensity and composure. His often seemingly blood-filled hot-headed dialogue encompasses some of the best moments of the film. It's evident Hoffman is not only enjoying himself but enjoying Lancaster. He's both repulsive but completely enamoring in structure, word, and persona. Anderson may have created the great oxymoron of cinema this century. Hoffman is damn-near perfect.

The performance of the year... On the flip side, Joaquin Phoenix not only inhabits a character never seen by him or any actor before but assembles a man from scratch, beat by beat, trait by trait. It's not just the finest acting performance of the year, not only the finest acting performance this millennium, it could be the finest work of the past twenty years or so. I can only recollect a handful of actors that have the gumption to stand toe-to-toe with Phoenix's work here. His Freddie Quell is utterly unpredictable; strutting, glaring, and holding an explosive mentality that could detonate at any moment. Phoenix controls it, even though there are many instances where you feel like he's losing it. Quell is frightening, admitting his evil, unbalance, and instability. Phoenix externalizes this in his zealous and disturbing actions but more importantly internalizes it in body language and character beats that not many actors dedicated to the craft can achieve. Joaquin Phoenix is not just Oscar-worthy, he's Oscar-bound. It's the performance you can't deny, the performance of the year. Let's hope they don't.

Where Phoenix and Hoffman are strident and vociferous, Amy Adams is internal and subtle, but always at the brim. Peggy Dodd is multifaceted and extremely complex. Adams understands her amazingly well, making intricate features that are surprising for "good-girl" Adams. She gets dirty and dominating in not only a prolific manner but in a sultry method. Adams is a revelation. Laura Dern is brief but memorable; a missed actress who should be doing more accessible work.

Jonny Greenwood's score once again, it's absolutely brilliant, well- placed, astonishing and among the best composers this year. Mihai Malaimare, Jr., cinematographer extraordinaire, is just that, extraordinary. Malaimare is painting scenes on a film canvas and we are witnessing the artist work. It's as if we're watching Bob Ross teach us the art of capture. Expect Cinematography to be named among Oscar's lineup in 2013 along with Film Editing (Leslie Jones, Peter McNulty) and Production Design (David Crank and Jack Fisk). It goes without saying, Picture, Director, and Screenplay should be there alongside them.

The Scientology subject is there and there are connections that can be made but are they obvious or intended? Not necessarily. It's not evident or offensive. I only hope that Paul Thomas Anderson and the film doesn't suffer from anyone assuming that its a slight at the group or any particular one for that matter.

Though the film takes time to warm up to, once the film soars, it's soars high. While The Master is not for everyone and there could be many detractors, there are three scenes in particular that are masterpieces in filmmaking. Anderson levels and executes a difficult subject with no fear or hesitation. He also knows his characters, what they are, who they are, and marrying the actors to them in a way not many directors can do. Anderson unites film with art again and The Master is their bond. It's good to see them together again.

239 of 387 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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