Bottom Line: Masterfully assembled, visually riveting, oddly hypnotic and bewilderingly whacked-out, THE MASTER almost solely exists as cinematic catnip for critics – a reason for most of them to awkwardly slap high-fives and then climb over each other as they go overboard in the heaping of high praise. I appreciated the art – it’s mostly in high form here – cinematography, direction, score…and, especially, the acting (Phoenix and Seymour Hoffman are all but locks for acting noms…if not wins) – my issue is that I can’t think of many that I’d actually recommend go see it… THE MASTER is a stressed-out piece of filmmaking that lacks the fluidity of BOOGIE NIGHTS, the depth of MAGNOLIA and the tension of THERE WILL BE BLOOD (some of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s other films – all of which I enjoyed more), and for all its achievements it still remains rather ambiguous, distant and cold. A jack of all trades, this movie only mastered some.
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson (BOOGIE NIGHTS, MAGNOLIA and THERE WILL BE BLOOD)
Running time: 137 minutes
Story: A striking portrait of drifters and seekers in post World War II America, Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master unfolds the journey of a Naval veteran who arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader. (The Weinstein Company)