Paul Thomas Anderson has made six films now, with every one unique from its predecessor in plot and style.
Anderson has taken audiences through the world of pornography, to following Daniel Plainview trying to control his oil empire.
And now he gives us “The Master,” a tale of a man’s struggle trying to get through post World War II society and find a place where he belongs.
The man is Freddie Quell, played by Joaquin Phoenix, a riveting performance that will possibly earn him his first Oscar.
Quell is a Navy man suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and a severe alcohol addiction.
He takes a job as a portrait photographer but gets fired for fighting a customer.
Quell then tries his hand as a farmer but after a fellow employee gets severely ill from a bad batch of moonshine he concocted. He goes on the run and stowaways upon a boat in the San Francisco harbor.
When he awakes he is confronted by Lancaster Dodd, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman in a fantastic supporting role, who is the leader of a religion movement known as “The Cause.”
Self-described as a “writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist and a theoretical philosopher,” Dodd is a strikingly effective character who preys upon the weak and vulnerable.
Dodd takes a liking to Quell, and his powerful moonshine, and asks him to join them to New York.
His wife Peggy, played by Amy Adams, doesn’t trust Quell and thinks he will damage the movement not help it.
He struggles throughout the film with the knowledge that the whole thing is a sham, but he is welcome and a part of “The Cause” so he sets aside his trepidations but becomes extremely violent at anyone who questions the movement.
Anderson is a fantastic director who can draw amazing performances out of his actors.
The caliber of acting in the film is fascinating to watch, and is far above any release this year, and the brillant script gives the actors amazing material.
Anderson’s brilliant direction is highly likely to gain him a best Director Oscar nomination once again.
The only gripes audiences may have with the film is that there’s much more ambiguity and underlying elements than in his previous films.
This film is not straightforward in the slightest and audiences will be pondering about “The Master” for days trying to pick the film apart.
The film has already drawn comparisons to Scientology, but that aspect mostly is put on the back burner in favor of letting the actors shine.
Overall “The Master” is an amazing character study.
With fantastic performances, perfect direction, a wonderful script and the terrific cinematography, “The Master” is the film to see in anticipation of awards season.