7.1/10
103,913
404 user 546 critic

The Master (2012)

Trailer
1:12 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

ON DISC
A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader.
Reviews
Popularity
1,609 ( 54)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 76 wins & 179 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Magnolia (1999)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, Julianne Moore
Boogie Nights (1997)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The story of a young man's adventures in the Californian pornography industry of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds
Inherent Vice (2014)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles private investigator Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds
Hard Eight (1996)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Professional gambler Sydney teaches John the tricks of the trade. John does well until he falls for cocktail waitress Clementine.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow
Adaptation. (2002)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A lovelorn screenwriter becomes desperate as he tries and fails to adapt "The Orchid Thief" by Susan Orlean for the screen.

Director: Spike Jonze
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out to find them.

Director: Wes Anderson
Stars: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis
Blue Velvet (1986)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of psychopathic criminals who have kidnapped her child.

Director: David Lynch
Stars: Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper
Shame (2011)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In New York City, Brandon's carefully cultivated private life - which allows him to indulge his sexual addiction - is disrupted when his sister arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay.

Director: Steve McQueen
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A puppeteer discovers a portal that leads literally into the head of movie star John Malkovich.

Director: Spike Jonze
Stars: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener
Edit

Cast

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
Edit

Storyline

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

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

| |  »

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 September 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Master  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$16,377,274 (USA) (15 March 2013)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

Although some of the nurses in the hospital scenes could have been at a V.A., the doctors could not. The V.A. is not staffed by military, and the doctors do not wear military uniforms. See more »

Quotes

V.A. Doctor: According to the history here, I notice that you say you saw a vision of your mother, tell me about that, tell me what happened.
Freddie Quell: [speaking over him] No it wasn't a vision, it was a dream.
V.A. Doctor: Well tell me about the dream.
Freddie Quell: Why?
V.A. Doctor: I need to know.
Freddie Quell: Why you need to know?
V.A. Doctor: This will help in your treatment.
Freddie Quell: You can't help in my treatment, you don't even know... Well, it was my mother and my father and me and... back home. And... we're sitting around a table... and drinks... laughing. And it just sort of ended...
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 »

Connections

Spoofed in Silly Man!!-L'Idiot-To Touvlo (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

The Deep Boo Sea
Written by Winston Sharples
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Cements Paul Thomas Andreson as the most consistent director working today
15 September 2012 | by See all my reviews

In a broad sense, The Master tells the story of a soulless drifter, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix,) constantly drunk and with no purpose in life, finding sanctuary in the company of The Cause, a cult-like group lead by a charismatic intellectual, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman.) This plot description does not do the film full justice, because with this film, Anderson fully releases himself from the constraints of traditional narrative storytelling. The film is told in a stream-of-consciousness style, loosely linking together vignettes and moments from the time these two men spend together, without any sense of "drive," "purpose" or "goal" in the traditional screen writing sense. It is a style perfectly befitting the emotional and spiritual state of the main character, Freddie, adrift in life with no anchor or sense of purpose of his own. Throughout the film, Anderson occasionally cuts back to a shot of the wake of a slow-moving ship, placing us, the audience, aimlessly drifting through the narrative, just as Freddie is. What results is a series of scenes, snapshots of events, some narratively linked and some not. The film is very subjective, and puts us squarely in Freddie Quell's mind; as a result, no easy answers are given, many questions remain mysteries, and we never get a firmly grounded sense of reality; many events remain ambiguous and keep us wondering as to their fidelity long after the film is over.

The Master is Anderson's most cinematically humble film yet. Gone are the sweeping camera moves, rapid-fire editing and high style of his previous films; even the slow, meticulous, beautifully lit tracking shots of There Will Be Blood are gone. Instead, Anderson submits to a wholly utilitarian shooting style, only moving the camera when necessary to capture action in the shot, and using formal framing techniques and naturalistic (but still very beautiful) lighting to comment on the characters' internal states. That said, it would be impossible to talk about the film's visual style without commenting on Anderson and cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr.'s decision to shoot on 65mm film. This film stock, especially when projected in 70mm, provides the film with an unprecedented sense of clarity and sharpness. The 65mm lenses provide a very unique and distinctly shallow depth of field that adds to the dream-like quality of the film, and helps emphasize the isolation the characters feel. It would be a crime to watch the film on any other format.

All this discussion about non-narrative elements, thematic overtones and film formats is not to minimize what is possibly the film's crowning and most long-lasting achievement: the performances. Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the most consistent performers working today and an Anderson regular, delivers another powerful, charismatic performance in line with his turn in Doubt. It is, for the most part, an effectively subtle performance, maintaining a controlled dignity peppered with the occasional outburst. Amy Adams delivers a similarly dignified performance. Her character is mostly quiet, observing from the sidelines, but she has her moments to shine in the aforementioned private scenes between her and Lancaster, in which she completely dominates him. But the highlight of the film is without a doubt Joaquin Phoenix's tremendous performance as Freddie Quell. Over the years, Phoenix has, without much fanfare, slowly but surely cemented himself as one of the best actors working today, with powerful turns in many varied films, from his deliciously villains turn as emperor Commodus in Gladiator to his quiet, grave personification of Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. Now, after a four-year absence from narrative films, he returns with what is undoubtedly a career best performance, and one that, with any luck, will win him a much-deserved Oscar. His utter and complete immersion in the character of Freddie Quell has to be seen to be believed. His back hunched, swinging his arms like an ape, his frame thin, his face twisted and distorted, mumbling and slurring his speech out of the corner of his mouth like he is just learning how to behave in society for the first time, and failing. And Phoenix' physical commitment to the performance doesn't stop there, either: he flings himself into scenes of raw violence that look and feel completely real. It is a crowning achievement in the art of acting and "the method," rivaling that of Daniel Day-Lewis in Anderson's previous film, and it further cements the biggest difference between Anderson and Stanley Kubrick as directors: Where Kubrick is known for his actors' cold, removed performances, Anderson has become the most consistent source for high-caliber Acting with a capital A.

It's hard to really explain what makes The Master work even though it lacks many traditional narrative elements that provide most other films with powerful drama, closure and immediate gratification. It's a very subjective experience, and I'm sure many viewers will have difficulty immersing themselves in the film without the typical sense of narrative progression and character goals. For this reason, The Master is probably Anderson's least accessible film. That said, I think it is a testament to Anderson's enormous intellect and directorial abilities that he managed to capture the attentions and fascination of so many viewers and critics. He certainly won me over; although I had more visceral and immediately satisfying reactions to Anderson's previous films, I find that The Master lingers on long after the lights went up in the theater. The film's intellectual ambitions, along with its very unique, eerie tone, will keep me mulling over the experience for days to come. Already I feel the urge to re-visit it and attempt to uncover more of the film's secrets. And that right there is a telltale sign of an instant classic film in the making.


218 of 363 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
'Nothing happens', 'no plot development' etc. LeSamourai86
Performance of the Decade so far? PolythenePaul
Boring ...opaque, vague, dull and great for mental masturbation janandersonco
'Slow Boat to China' and homosexual overtones... strikefire83
This film IS NOT about Scientology! tph890
2nd veiwing better? snoochieboocher1978
Discuss The Master (2012) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?