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.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
The war is over and the deportees are back to their homes and each is after his life. A TV-show is trying to meet some old veterans of war. One of them who is very sick should go to ... See full summary »
A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe's nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.
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
Looks stunning, wonderfully acted but the story-telling is weak and gradually loses any momentum it may have had
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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