Trying to adjust to his new life in the real world, ex-sailor Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) returns home after World War II. A severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder complicates Freddie’s life, and after attacking a customer, Freddie loses his job as a photographer at a department store.
After a night of drinking, Freddie sneaks aboard the yacht of Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) as a stowaway. Dodd is the leader of The Cause (a philosophical movement), and he enjoys Freddie’s homemade alcohol. Dodd provides shelter, and through his methods of teaching and rehabilitation, Dodd develops a bond with Freddie.
Director/screenwriter Paul Thomas Anderson adds to his reputation as the most talented American filmmaker with The Master. Anderson’s work behind the camera is potent and precise, creating beautiful scenery along the way. The story is puzzling and thought-provoking, and Anderson provides a good set of rich characters.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s performance as Lancaster Dodd is superb. Dodd is a benevolent man, who tries to lend Freddie a helping hand, but at times, Dodd can be a pompous and arrogant cult leader. Amy Adams really nailed the Peggy Dodd character. Peggy is a strict and loyal housewife, and Adams’ believable performance is the driving force behind this character.
But Joaquin Phoenix is the true star of this cast. Freddie Quell is a broken man, who’s struggling to adapt to a normal life in the real world. Phoenix provides a powerful and dedicated performance, and Phoenix’s remarkable ability to display a wide range of emotions is mesmerizing. Freddie is torn apart by anger, sadness, frustration, and confusion. You can sympathize with Freddie’s internal struggle, and Phoenix should be the front-runner for Best Actor at the 2013 Academy Awards. I know it’s early, but Phoenix’s powerhouse performance deserves recognition, and as of right now, he’s the clear-cut choice for the Best Actor award.
The Master is a thought-provoking and compelling drama. The student/teacher relationship between Hoffman and Phoenix packs a powerful emotional punch, and The Master is loaded with top notch acting. The scientology controversy shouldn’t damage The Master‘s reputation in the long run, because this film deserves more than one Oscar nomination next year.
Final Rating: 10/10