What is the point of The Master? Its narrative is suitably elliptical for a ‘arty’ house film; it lacks the clear drive that’s bespoke Hollywood. It features lauded performances of the sort that Oscar voters like. It’s beautifully shot and superbly set designed with some striking compositions – am thinking particularly of a shot early in the film Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) lying in the ship’s crow’s nest (above). The music, both ‘found’ and scored (by Jonny Greenwood) is terrific … I hated it (apart from the music).
What’s the film’s point? What was it about? It wasn’t about being a member of a cult, as its focus is on the relationship between Philip Seymour Hoffmann’s Master and Freddie, who never joins. It barely touches upon the psychology of the Master, he loses his temper a couple of times when challenged, he simply seems deranged. As is Freddie who is probably suffering from PTSD. OK it’s artyhouse, which means you don’t have to explain everything but when does that stray into laziness on the part of the filmmaker: PT Anderson? What about the social context? Why did post-war America encourage cults?
I thought Joaquin Phoenix entirely unconvincing and Philip Seymour Hoffmann appeared to be going through the motions. Most people don’t agree with me about this film.