The Master

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The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson (2012)

15 Certificate


Our Score
After the oil-rush epic There Will Be Blood, single-minded writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's most conspicuous success, he conjures another richly evoked American period drama here. The postwar optimism and material upswing of the early 1950s have bypassed the demobbed, mentally damaged sailor Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), who, after a chance meeting on a yacht, is taken under the patriarchal wing of Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), persuasive leader of psychobabbling self-help organisation The Cause. A spellbinding, forcefully physical Phoenix imbues his tongue-tied, short-fused alcoholic with sufficient guileless charisma to explain the enduringly symbiotic mentor-pupil relationship that drives the narrative - and causes friction with Dodd's straight-laced wife (Amy Adams). The Scientology-like movement develops into a cult, and questions are asked of the self-righteous Dodd by sceptics, the police and even his own son (Jesse Plemons). But what might have been Anderson's latest masterpiece fails to fully take dramatic flight in an unsatisfying final act. It remains, however, vital, character-driven film-making.


After leaving the navy, a tormented Second World War veteran with a fierce temper develops an intense relationship with a man starting his own religion. However, the former serviceman's darker impulses remain hard to control, especially when confronted with evidence of the cult leader's dishonesty. Paul Thomas Anderson's drama, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams.

Cast & Crew

Freddie Quell Joaquin Phoenix
Lancaster Dodd Philip Seymour Hoffman
Peggy Dodd Amy Adams
Helen Laura Dern
Elizabeth Dodd Ambyr Childers
Clark Rami Malek
Val Dodd Jesse Plemons
Bill William Kevin J O'Connor
John More Christopher Evan Welch
Norman Conrad Martin Dew
Wayne Gregory Joshua Close
Cliff Boyd Kevin J Walsh
Frank Frank Bettag
Director Paul Thomas Anderson
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: EntertainmentGuidance: swearing, sex scenes.Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 2 Nov 2012