DVD Review: The Master
The first half of The Master is mesmerising. We follow Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) from the last days of the Second World War into post war America, full of hope and glamour. But not for Freddie who is emotionally damaged by his experiences – it’s even hinted that he may have not been all that stable before the war. Trying to fit in and hold down a job, he fails miserably, finding solace in the bottom of a bottle of homemade liquor. This is Joaquin at his finest, a role he has seemingly been preparing for his whole career. Nothing he has done before comes close to his performance opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master.
Hoffman himself brings a stellar performance to the film, as Lancaster Dodd, a charismatic cult leader who tries to help Freddie find peace, find himself, to free Freddie from his damaged soul.
Everything about The Master is amazing, the look and feel of the film, the acting, the air of mystery, and it’s seductive pull.
But then, just as Freddie lost his way, the film does too. It’s not that it suddenly shifts direction, or pulls a plot twist out of the blue, it’s just that you realise that you have no idea what the film has become. You’re confused and wondering how much longer these two actors will dance for.
And this is not a good thing.
The Master is a great film to begin with, and the Joaquin/Hoffman duet is stunning, but not even they have the power to carry this film through it’s 132 minute runtime.
And then at the very end, writer and director, Paul Thomas Anderson does something very strange that blows the whole thing wide open.
R16 Contains sex scenes and offensive language.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read