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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:
... Freddie Quell
... 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
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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:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site |  »

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 September 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Master  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Chosen as the best film of the half decade by the A.V. Club. See more »

Goofs

When Freddie first goes to Doris' house, there is a motion-activated spotlight on the house next door as he is climbing up the stairs. Motion-detecting lights weren't introduced until 1985. See more »

Quotes

Clark: [talking to Freddy about Doris during a test] She got rid of you, right? She saw you for what you are. Selfish. And alone. You should go into the hospital with your mother. 'Cause that's where you belong. 'Cause you're sick. And you're tired. And you need to be alone, away from people.
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

Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #21.89 (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Able-Bodied Seamen
(uncredited)
Written by Jonny Greenwood
Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Two very different men try to fulfill one another.
11 October 2012 | by See all my reviews

Unquestionably P.T. Anderson's best film so far. I've always liked his work, but early on I had no sense he would achieve heights such as this. Let me say this, Anderson, ALONE, I think amongst relatively big-budget American filmmakers, allows his imagery to play by its own rules. EVERY other studio filmmaker- from Scorsese to Tarantino, to Jarmusch, plays by some kind of pre-established rules-even if they are the pre-established rules of "art cinema" or "second cinema". Anderson, like Weerasthakul or Bela Tarr, speaks his own tongue. I thought There Will Be Blood was pretty great, but this is Truly Great- a singularly challenging work of art. Similarly, I would compare Daniel Day-Lewis's work in Blood with Phoenix's work here. The former was impressive, creative, witty. The latter is brave, adventuresome, and merciless. More than any of the "canonical" "method" performances of cinema, I think Phoenix reaches into places of himself, of all of us, that's very unearthing demands new philosophical questions. Here's my take, for what it's worth, of the "meaning" of the film. It's a comparison of two drastically contradictory and complementary personalities. One wants to live without any Master by becoming a Master himself. The other wants a master to give some kind of shape to his life. L. Ron Hubbard- inspired guru Lancaster Dodd (played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman in a performance that's beautiful but not ground-breaking) is a con-man, but as I read him, he's not exactly a charlatan. He truly wants to believe the (self-serving) things he's saying, and he needs other people to believe them too. He's very successful at (least the latter half of) this. But this does not make him free. Instead, it turns him into a kind of King and, as we know from the example of Louis XVI, any sovereign is ultimately a privileged prisoner of his/her subjects. They are exempt from the laws of the land, of life, exactly in so far as others believe they are. Dodd's "freedom" from mastery is wholly dependent on the worship of the other, an other outstandingly represented by Phoenix's Freddie Quell, a potentially unbreakable "scoundrel" who Dodd both fears and admires as such. Quell is a completely, irredeemably, broken individual, whose only surviving qualities are sheer animal instinct- screw, eat, and drink. He yearns to be put back together, to be mastered by some other, to serve some sovereign and thus be welcomed back into civilization. But he's too far gone, or too savage, for that to work. He can't be mastered, even by any coherent sense of self. Dodd seeks the solitude of the sublime but is ultimately made completely dependent on the Other, while Quell, very unwillingly, achieves the freedom, and loneliness, of God.


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