Reasons to watch it:
- Incredible acting scenes
- An interesting perspective on the founding of a religion (or cult)
- Does a great job of putting you into the 40’s/50’s era
- If you enjoy watching movies with psychopaths
Reasons to skip it:
- The story is pretty meh
- It’s also not told very well, in terms of editing and directing
- Pretty dry. If you didn’t like There Will Be Blood because of how dry it was, The Master will serve you no better
It’s really a shame. Such amazing performances usually only come up in 1 or 2 movies a year. What really is a shame though, is how the movie had such amazing performances while still managing to be a pretty mediocre movie. Nobody could say it isn’t ambitious and that it doesn’t have great potential, it just lacked execution.
All throughout my viewing, I was left thinking about two things. What an amazing job Joaquin Phoenix is doing, and, not so much what is going on in the movie, but why is it going on. The plot in and of itself is easy enough to follow, but it’s just kind of… pointless. There are scenes in the movie that seemed to add nothing to the overall picture. There were poor editing choices and strange character decisions. Likely most of this could be attributed to something like character development, but I just found it to be a waste of time because no further development was needed. Ultimately the story led nowhere with a last third of the movie feeling like Paul Thomas Anderson wasn’t sure quite how he wanted to end it.
Overall, The Master frustrated me. I really can’t emphasize enough that the performances were great. Phoenix and Seymour Hoffman were fantastic and I expect Oscar nominations for both of them, possibly wins. It’s just a shame that the acting was really the only major part of the movie worth noting as being outstanding.