Paul Thomas Anderson Makes an Entrance with The Help of ‘The Master’

MPAA Rating: R
Run Time: 137 mins
Common Sense Rating: 16+

“I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist, a theoretical philosopher… but above all, I am a man.”

-Lancaster Todd
(Phillip Seymour Hoffman)

It’s been half a decade since we have seen any new work from filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. His last film, There Will Be Blood, has been held in high regard. Does Anderson deliver once again with his latest film, The Master?

The Master follows a brash drifter named Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), as he causes his own problems due to his mannerisms. The consequences of his actions ultimately lead him to come across an engaging intellectual named Lancaster Todd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman).

Todd is also the mastermind of a religious faction known as The Cause; in which its followers refer to him as “The Master”. As Quell and Todd begin to build camaraderie between them, Quell becomes an important supporter to the Cause.

Will this growing friendship and faith be able to endure the growing skepticism of the Cause?

The cast and casting for this movie as a whole was impressive. Everything from choosing the top talent to While everyone all the whole of the whole cast did a good job acting, the real focus should be on the two actors that truly move this film.

Joaquin Phoenix gives a very powerful performance that makes this movie alone a must-see. His very intense performance was unlike I’ve ever seen this year. Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers a very commanding performance as the charismatic sect leader Lancaster Dodd. He seems completely immersed in this role.

The chemistry between the 2 actors is very apparent very real and very engaging an interesting to watch. It’s so strong, it is like watching victims of an accident; you can’t take your eyes off of them. Both actors should be nominated for Oscars for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, if not win it.

The plot is riveting and while I had a couple issues with the story, they were minor in comparison to other movies that I’ve seen. This movie is more of a character driven movie than an event-driven movie, allowing the actors a chance to display their talent.

While there are many parallels that could link ‘The Cause’ & Scientology, the film isn’t officially about that religion. In fact, Anderson made a statement to Newsweek that said, “If you’re expecting to see an exposé of that controversial “religion,” you’ve come to the wrong movie.” (See full interview at

Despite these qualities, I will readily admit that this movie is not for everyone. The subject matter can be a bit dry for some movie goers and while there is no There Will Be Blood type of violence, there is graphic nudity (through the eyes of a main character), sexual situations, and intense situations using very spicy language.

The Master is truly like a noteworthy art piece; it’s visually stunning, at times controversial but well crafted.  If you love the art of film, particularly an interesting character study, then go out and see this cinematic masterpiece. Welcome back, Mr. Anderson. A+

Fade to black…


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