The Master (2012) – Performances Are Enough
There are a few questions when I finish watching this movie: what just happened? What did I just watch? What is this movie talks about? There were several patterns I could conclude from how Paul Thomas Anderson always included his trademark. It deals with religion, belief, or related, psychology, with quite philosophical.
“The Master” is like a movie you can’t watch it once so that you would immediately love the films. I admit Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the names of directors who still exist today since Stanley Kubrick. He was one of the people who introduced the true essence movies. This is what I really feel when I watch “The Master.” It’s so different from the others. Not only that, “The Master” itself is a tackle and appreciate things from the actors themselves. What they wanna try to convey, to the cinematography.
I seem to understand why Joaquin Phoenix deserves the role of the Joker for the upcoming movie. Why? Maybe, because of this movie. Joaquin Phoenix as Freddie Quell was a WWII veteran. He experienced a kind of PTSD after his return in war and his daily life in the post-war era. His mental condition is unstable. His character is so aggressive towards people making his life non-existent, feeling empty, sociopathic-like, meaningless, and without any purpose. At that moment, he met a religious and philosophical person. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd, a Scientology philosophical leader called the Cause. He is so charismatic with another name, the Master. People in the group called him that.
The story is messy, doesn’t go in the same direction, and doesn’t have important points related to the synopsis. Just like “There Will Be Blood” where I didn’t understand at all. I just read the summary, watched the trailer, and read the synopsis of my passing before I watched the film. In such a way, cases like this seem really similar to this movie. Like, you are on the wrong ship. You don’t understand the people on the ship, trying to understand, trying to adapt, and trying to get out too. The point is “The Master” has is own. How to tell this film and how to interpret it.
You care about Freddie, the anti-hero who loves to drink alcohol. Poisoning people from a bottle of alcohol by combining various materials is just a hobby. He love messing up with many people he meets. He loves to masturbation and does sex with a sand doll made by his classmates and himself. There is a strong imagination of views towards women on him but for some reason, he really likes it. His aggressive nature often takes some action in a violent way. There is some guy try to arrest his boss. When someone insults his boss, so the pet doesn’t hesitate to bite these people. Besides that, he is a human being. He still has someone to lean like a person in general. But what makes it like that? What has he witnessed?
On the other hand, there is Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd. He is like a brain that controls people around him. He was able to tame that anti-hero and he was able to bow to his employer and go anywhere. Dodd is a Scientology leader of philosophical teaching called the Cause. It’s a group that teaches there is a human life before the life they experience now. There is a second life which is still running, the past, and time travel. Dodd assumes that a person’s personality doesn’t originate in what’s the origin have. It comes from the experiences of each individual in the past, in a previous life. A mind that exists in every individual. He is a charismatic person. But, there is something that’s stuck in him. He utilizes the group for the sake of its lust.
The movie from the first point of view is so difficult to keep track. I’ve also been bored several times in certain scenes. But, there are also some that make me memorable like the processing scene. It’s one of the best in this film. The duo acting from Phoneix and Hoffman really attract the audience into a “not blinking” game. But, I take one of the best: the prison scene. Freddie really feels like a monster trying to fight the people around him. It takes in one really long take and the powerful support from the two actors. Some specific moments when Phoenix accidentally and didn’t intend to destroy one of the toilets in the prison. The toilet was used as a historical record.
Phoenix was unconsciously controlled by his own character so that he accidentally destroyed it and there is an improvisation of the actor. There are some that I think are quite memorable even though I took two of the best moments before, such as the scene when Dodd argued with one of the people about a philosophical thing and time travel, reincarnation, and previous life. Even though I don’t really know what they are talking about, it’s just a tense scene that deserves to be appreciated as one of the best scenes in “The Master.”
Paul Thomas Anderson uses the 50s as the background of the film which is so thick yet colorful from the selection of colors that are so beautiful and they seem neat in each scene. Jonny Greenwood’s score really had an impression of being stuck too. Just like his score in “There Will Be Blood,” his referral music is able to conjure up the audience to last a long time because of watching one of the very beautiful visuals with the help of memorable music. The acting in this movie is one of the best and there is no doubt.
Although Daniel Day-Lewis as Abe Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” takes the best, Joaquin Phoenix is one of the actors who act without gaps and is able to transform into a new, unique, and slightly sociopathic-like character. In fact, the characters are a bit reminiscent of Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood” apart from the same director. His expression, smile, gimmick, gesture, the way he walked, the way he found it was truly shown in an extraordinary manner.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is also like that although not too aggressive like Joaquin Phoenix. As usual, he is able to provide the best performance between his characters with Phoenix who are able to reciprocate mutual symbiosis. His character is truly charismatic as someone who uses and becomes a brain in the people around him. He is so natural and superb, not predictable between these two characters. There is Amy Adams as Peggy Dodd who is also able to appear as a supporting character and so Rami Malek.
In addition, the most that people think because the movie isn’t so good as Paul Thomas Anderson is the ending. Although at first, it was hard to understand during the first viewing, the second viewing was a truly different experience. It’s about freedom, randomness, struggle from the past, being yourself. There will be a moment when you have to be able to let go of someone and start stepping yourself to become a better person in the future. “The Master” also seems to allude things such as trust and philosophy.
There are some minor problems about the movie: Lancaster Dodd and the Cause. We don’t really know who this character is and who the group is. It’s like the movie isn’t too fixated on it regardless of being a character besides Freddie Quell. Freddie Quell has its background and past of his own character but why not for Dodd and the Cause? The movie ultimately overrides this rather than just for Freddie Quell.
“The Master” is so visually beautiful from any angle. Paul Thomas Anderson once again showed the essence of what the film really was. Taken as a whole, “The Master” isn’t too boring for some people who like complex and complicated themes. Filled with intrigue that’s so unique to its characters, the actor in this movie deserves some shout out besides being an Oscar nominee. A film describes how guidance, freedom, breaking away and being an individual like a person whose needs a process.
Jonny Greenwood is also able to bring music in the form of something that has a unique impression in it. Regardless of the minor problem and for the pace that’s too boring according to people, “The Master” is simply one of the most beautiful but not the best when comparing it with “There Will Be Blood.” It’s a movie with various interpretations and a poetic that you wanna convey to the audience.
4.5 out of 5 stars.