The Master

The Master (2012)

83A man who’s led a troubled life after being released from the Navy at the end of World War II finds solace with the leader of a cult. But will this relationship make him better or worse?

With this movie, director Paul Thomas Anderson continues the toning down of his visual style that began with Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood. Here, he also jettisons a conventional rise-of-action arc, relying instead on a captivating dual character study. He also dispenses with any obvious type of closure. I’m still not sure if I essentially watched two characters run in place for 138 minutes, but those characters and their relationship definitely kept my interest. Joaquin Phoenix is frightening as a ticking time bomb and Philip Seymour Hoffman convincingly portrays a man whose charisma and confidence hide some personal demons. Jonny Greenwood once more contributes a compellingly unusual, discordant score.

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