The Master 

It's not about Scientology.

Although director Paul Thomas Anderson and his cast continue to stress that their new film The Master is not about Scientology, the repeated references are nearly overwhelming, and about as thinly veiled as a Frederick's of Hollywood negligee.

But ... they're right. The Master is not about Scientology. Deep in its beautiful guts, The Master is about a man trying to better himself — and just about any religion or faith could've served as the vehicle propelling this fascinating film.

It's the end of World War II, and ex-sailor Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is a goddamn drunk. And not just a garden-variety alcoholic, but an obliteration boozer who makes his own hooch out of paint-thinner and rubbing alcohol. He's also vengeful, hypersexual, and perhaps (or perhaps not) an involuntary murderer. Something needs to give, and so enters Lancaster Dodd (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), the "master" of a startup religion/self-help cult called "The Cause" (played by Scientology). For Dodd, Quell is the perfect guinea pig: an "animal" who, once his "ancient trauma" is revealed though tests, study, and psychological torture, will hopefully graduate to a higher order of human ... the human we were created to be.

One is tempted to gleefully approach The Master as the cinematic counterpart to a juicy Vanity Fair hit piece — but upon viewing, one quickly realizes that Anderson is reaching for much more. Rather than heaping scorn upon a pseudo-faith, The Master is a gorgeously filmed rumination on human need: the need to be self-aware, the need to be accepted, the need to be loved. As much as drunkard Quell needs to make peace with his past, Dodd needs to be accepted, respected, and appreciated for what he believes is the rescue of the human species. In the end, what each of these characters receives speaks more about humanity and religion than any one-note exposé could ever hope to accomplish.

As for the nuts and bolts of the film, the acting from all parties — not to mention the cinematography — is a thing of sensitive, nuanced beauty. And while there's a certain meandering, elusive quality that could spawn a twinge of mistrust in Anderson's powers, rest assured that each sweeping frame is there for a reason, and The Master is one of those rare films that will have you reflecting on your own self-awareness for days to come.

The Master
Rated R · 136 minutes · 2012
Official Site: www.themasterfilm.com
Director: Paul Anderson
Producer: Joanne Sellar, Daniel Lupi, Paul Anderson, Megan Ellison, Adam Somner and Ted Schipper
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Hoffman, Amy Adams, Laura Dern and Jesse Plemons
Looper
Rated R · 119 minutes · 2012
Official Site: www.loopermovie.com
Director: Rian Johnson
Producer: Ram Bergman, James D. Stern, Douglas Hansen, Julie Goldstein, Peter Schlessel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dan Mintz
Cast: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Summer Qing, Tracie Thomas, Frank Brennan, Garret Dillahunt, Nick Gomez, Marcus Hester, Jon Eyez, Kevin Stillwell, Thirl Haston, James Hébert, Kenneth Brown Jr., Cody Wood and Adam Boyer

Trailers



Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Looper, or The Master

Film Details

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Latest in Movie Review

  • Tomorrowland

    Mickey, Minnie, and Clooney join together in this lead balloon filled with heavenly choir music.
    • May 22, 2015
  • Good Kill

    Ethan Hawke has the ideal demeanor for his role as both an ace flyboy and a burnt-out button-pusher.
    • May 20, 2015
  • Mad Max: Fury Road

    Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. The new Mad Max is thrilling and hugely entertaining.
    • May 13, 2015
  • More »

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

Summer Guide 2015

Your definitive guide to summertime entertainment, outings, eating, drinking, and more.

Occupy

Continuing coverage of the local and national Occupy movement.

© 2015 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation