The Master

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It's the end of World War II, and ex-sailor Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is a goddamn drunk. He's also vengeful, hypersexual, and perhaps (or perhaps not) an involuntary murderer. Something needs to give, and so enters Lancaster Dodd (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), the "master" of a startup religion/self-help cult called "The Cause" (played by Scientology). For Dodd, Quell is the perfect patient/guinea pig; an "animal" who, once his "ancient trauma" is revealed though tests, study, and psychological torture, will hopefully graduate to a higher order of human... the human we were created to be. One is tempted to gleefully approach The Master as the cinematic counterpart to a juicy Vanity Fair hit piece—but upon viewing, one quickly realizes that Paul Thomas Anderson is reaching for much more. Rather than heaping scorn on a pseudo-faith, Anderson's film is a gorgeously filmed rumination on human need: the need to be self-aware, the need to be accepted, the need to be loved.
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Credits
Director
Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast
Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman