Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Jesse Plemons and a host of others.
Oscar Nominations: Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix), Best Supporting Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Best Actress (Amy Adams)
The Master is excellent filmmaking; every shot and every moment is poetry and what I think makes it special is that the characters, an alcoholic war vet suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, an enigmatic yet charismatic cult leader and his believing wife, come together in a way that makes us understand them despite their foreignness. As with most Paul Thomas Anderson films, the story is tough to pinpoint. Rather, The Master is a confounding psychological journey of discovery, acceptance and manipulation.
What I liked: It’s redundant at this point to mention Philip Seymour Hofmann and Joaquin Phoenix. The movie succeeds because of their performances. Amy Adams is understated and convincing but I wouldn’t put her on par with the other two who carry the film; although, in some ways, she’s eerier in her tranquil judgement and faith which is a testament to her performance. The images are transfixing and there are a number of shots that I would frame and put on my wall. Finally, Anderson, brought back Jonny Greenwood to delivery a score that is as entrancing as the movie.
What I didn’t like: I enjoy an Anderson film but I’m not an avid follower. While I appreciate his filmmaking skills, often his artistry distances his audience from his characters just enough to prevent me from empathizing with them in the way I do other films. I always walk away more disturbed and ponderous than entertained.
My rating: Two of the most challenging and successful performances of 2012. If it weren’t for Daniel Day Lewis and Christoph Walz, these two would have my vote for the Oscars.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%