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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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Movies Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson's new film Phantom Thread marks the eighth feature film that the director has also written. Discover other films he has both written and directed.

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joaquin Phoenix ... Freddie Quell
Price Carson ... V.A. Doctor
Mike Howard Mike Howard ... Rorschach Doctor
Sarah Shoshana David Sarah Shoshana David ... V.A. Nurse
Bruce Goodchild ... V.A. Doctor / Interview
Matt Hering Matt Hering ... V.A. Patient
Dan Anderson Dan Anderson ... V.A. Patient
Andrew Koponen ... V.A. Patient
Jeffrey W. Jenkins ... V.A. Patient
Patrick Wilder Patrick Wilder ... V.A. Patient (as Patrick Biggs)
Ryan Curtis Ryan Curtis ... V.A. Patient
Jay Laurence Jay Laurence ... V.A. Patient
Abraxas Adams Abraxas Adams ... V.A. Patient
Tina Bruna Tina Bruna ... Portrait Customer
Kevin Hudnell ... Portrait Customer
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 September 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Master See more »

Filming Locations:

Oakland, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$736,311, 16 September 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$16,377,274

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$28,258,060
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Datasat | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene in the desert where Phillip Seymour Hoffman rides a motorcycle was very likely an homage to Melvin and Howard (1980) which was directed by Jonathan Demme. Demme is one of Paul Thomas Anderson's favorite directors and often cites him as a remaining influence on him and his work. See more »

Goofs

The catch wiring on the side of the ship when the men were relaxing they didn't match 1950 ships. They were made of some kind of synthetic wiring. That technology wasn't available at that time frame. Even today they still use metal wiring on those things. See more »

Quotes

Lancaster Dodd: Your fear of capture and imprisonment is from millions of years ago. You are not there. You are asleep.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Featured in Renegade Cut: Scientology in The Master (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

I'll Go No More A-Rovin'
Traditional, arranged by Justin Goldman and Hal Willner
Performed by Philip Seymour Hoffman
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Looks stunning, wonderfully acted but the story-telling is weak and gradually loses any momentum it may have had
10 March 2013 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

I came into The Master knowing almost nothing about it and, knowing (and caring) almost nothing about Scientology, it transpires that I may not have been able to take as much from it as someone going in fully informed and ready to be led by the director. I say this upfront because I have noticed that generally, criticism of this film tends to be met with a snobby dismissal of the individual who didn't "get it" because they weren't smart enough etc. This said, the film started well and it engaged me for well over the first half, building characters and exploring them in a patience rhythmic manner that mirrors the hypnotic delivery of Dodd himself. Sadly this build doesn't have a delivery to speak of and in the second half of the film it really did lose me.

What else it lost was any direction and sense of momentum that it may have had up till that point. The story doesn't go anywhere and it takes its time doing it, meandering through similar ground and offering nothing to really justify the long running time. Some may chose to see this as people complaining about a lack of action etc (again, that snobby of assuming such comments must mean "I need a car chase") but this isn't it at all; the story-telling seems to fall way down a priority list and it is a real shame because so much else about the film is excellent.

The first thing that grabs you is visually how stunning the film is – and it is a factor that remains consistent across the whole film. The colors, the framing and the size of the images are alluring and engaging. I had not heard of Malaimare before seeing his name in the credits, but his work here is terrific. On top of these images we get great use of music that is like a bedding rather than being stuck on top. It is hard to describe but it works very well, spilling under scene after scene and giving the delivery an oddly engaging feel and tone. As everyone has already said, the film is carried with some very strong performances. Phoenix is really great, with ragged edges and internals on display. Hoffman is more patient but also prone to rage when questioned and he balances this well. Adams surprised me the most as I think I didn't expect her to be as good as she was. The three of them (but mostly the lead two) make the film much better by virtue of what they do – and it is just a shame that the story-telling isn't better for them.

Indeed this is true for me of everything, because the film is so well made, looks so beautiful and is a great piece of crafting that it really is such a shame to be left cold by it and to feel it meandering without any momentum or reason. It is a great film and it deserves to be seen for what it does so very well, but in no way is it a good story – and it is this aspect that really lets it down.


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