Here I am writing about another Paul Thomas Anderson film. This one however happens to be my favourite from the director and sits at number 12 on my top 30 list of my favourite movies of all time. The Master is not only a masterpiece but a personal film, one that is deeply emotional and cathartic for me in an extremely profound way.

Why The Master Isn’t For Everyone…

I saw The Master during the last week of the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2012. Going into the film I didn’t know what to expect but knew of the story and the controversy behind it. I don’t want to get too personal because it has nothing to do with the film but I was once a member of the group that The Master was based on. I thankfully only spent a few years in that group, although I did dedicate a lot of time and money to the cause and thankfully left almost a decade ago. Needless to say, this experience impacted my life quite heavily. I also knew that many people on the internet had been writing for months that The Master was either an homage or allegory of the founder of the group I was in, its formative years and why people get involved with such groups. Of course, I was highly curious with the subject matter and spent several days trying to get tickets for an early showing at TIFF.

Sadly, The Master didn’t end up doing very well. It was shot for $32 million but only made $28.3 million back at the box office. While many critics praised the film as one of the best of 2012, audiences didn’t respond as well to the film. The Master currently holds a solid 85% critic’s score on Rotten Tomatoes but only holds a 60% audience rating. Many audience members felt the film was too full of itself, artsy and long. Thankfully, the academy took notice and The Master was nominated for 3 Oscars for Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix, Best Supporting Actor for Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Best Supporting Actress for Amy Adams.

Why The Master Is An Absolutely Incredible Film…

Like I mentioned before, I had a personal experience with the group that The Master was based on and while I was moved by the film the first time I saw it I would agree with many that the film could have been 20 minute shorter. I also found myself not liking the end and felt it was unnecessary to the plot. However, I re-watched the Master about a year and a half later and for whatever reason I became quite emotional. In particular, I found the ending to be much more meaningful and profound than the first time I saw it. The scene that has always gotten me since has been when Lancaster Dodd, played the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman sings Slow Boat to China to Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell. The first time I saw The Master I got emotional but was distracted by the length of the film. The second time I saw the Master I got misty-eyed and actually started to tear up. The Master would become 1 of only 3 films I actually cried during as an adult. The other two were The Reader and The Lives of Others.

In my opinion, The Master is about 2 lost souls who find each other because one needs a muse and the other needs a mentor. I feel for both because I too was looking for this very human need when I joined the group in question. For me, its founder, who died when I was a small child, became my mentor, my guru, a father figure and my best friend. I know how that sounds but that is the power that the cult of personality has on people. I praise Freddie, and anyone for that matter, who have the courage to leave those types of groups because Trust me, it isn’t an easy thing to do.

Overall, The Master simply is A MASTERPIECE. It’s a POWERHOUSE of amazing performances from a group of incredible actors, ARTISTICALLY DIRECTED and DEEPLY EMOTIONAL. This is a film you wouldn’t soon forget and because of the emotional connection I have to the real group, it’s one that is sure to stay in my mind for a very long time.

My favourite line if the movie: “If you leave me now, in the next life you will be my sworn enemy. And I will show you no mercy.”