The Master (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
Nominated for 3 awards.
Nominated for Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix), Best Supporting Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and Best Supporting Actress (Amy Adams).
Watched April 25, 2013.
Everywhere I look, the world of reviewers is raving about The Master. Hardly anyone has anything negative to say. To be quite honest, there have only been two films I have watched so far that have driven my writing on this blog to a complete standstill, and this is one of them. It was all I could do to sit through the first half hour of this film, let alone the remaining 100 plus minutes.
While the acting was all well and good and those embodying their characters gave intense commitment to their character arc, the story itself was lackluster and slow moving. The emotional depth was so one note that it was hard to keep my eyes open. When the story attempted to get deep and perplexing, there was so little explanation and so much left to the audience to discover and decide that I lost interest immediately. I am a big fan of films that make you think, but this film made me so uncomfortable that I had to walk away from it several times.
In the most simple of terms, the film is about a cult. A man named Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) returns home from World War II a broken man. He spends his nights making and pushing his moonshine (generally made out of soap and paint thinner, among other things), and his days searching for his next job, because he can’t seem to hold down anything. His world changes drastically when he happens upon a storybook ship adorned with lights and laughter. He hops aboard and finds himself the new pet of The Master, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
Author and thinker, Dodd leads around a gaggle of ex-wives and family as he teaches about past lives and healing faults and hurts of the past. He argues that the earth is trillions of years old and that by healing our past wounds we can become a more perfect species.
Despite how interesting and soul searching this might sound, that’s really all there is to this film. There are some awkward experiences and a few fists are thrown here and there, but the film really stays at a standstill and by the end there is very little growth seen in any of the characters. Freddie maybe has the most change, but the rest are determinedly still.
While there are some winning scenes of impeccable performances, the scenes together do not combine into anything moving or resolved. I would not recommend this film, and will likely avoid it from now on at all costs.