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The Master (2012)

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1:12 | Trailer
A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by the Cause and its charismatic leader.
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Movies Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson's new film Phantom Thread marks the eighth feature film that the director has also written. Discover other films he has both written and directed.

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 76 wins & 179 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joaquin Phoenix ... Freddie Quell
Price Carson ... V.A. Doctor
Mike Howard Mike Howard ... Rorschach Doctor
Sarah Shoshana David Sarah Shoshana David ... V.A. Nurse
Bruce Goodchild ... V.A. Doctor / Interview
Matt Hering Matt Hering ... V.A. Patient
Dan Anderson Dan Anderson ... V.A. Patient
Andrew Koponen ... V.A. Patient
Jeffrey W. Jenkins ... V.A. Patient
Patrick Wilder Patrick Wilder ... V.A. Patient (as Patrick Biggs)
Ryan Curtis Ryan Curtis ... V.A. Patient
Jay Laurence Jay Laurence ... V.A. Patient
Abraxas Adams Abraxas Adams ... V.A. Patient
Tina Bruna Tina Bruna ... Portrait Customer
Kevin Hudnell ... Portrait Customer
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Storyline

Returning from Navy service in World War II, Freddie Quell drifts through a series of breakdowns. Finally he stumbles upon a cult which engages in exercises to clear emotions and he becomes deeply involved with them. Written by Alan Young, edit Hal Issen

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 September 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Master See more »

Filming Locations:

Oakland, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$736,311, 16 September 2012

Gross USA:

$16,377,274

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$28,258,060
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Datasat | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The trailers for the film were edited by Paul Thomas Anderson himself without any permission from the studio. The trailers were notable for consisting mostly of footage not featured in the final cut of the film. See more »

Goofs

Although some of the nurses in the hospital scenes could have been at a V.A., the doctors could not. The V.A. is not staffed by military, and the doctors do not wear military uniforms. See more »

Quotes

Peggy Dodd: This exercise will help you with your concentration. What color are my eyes?
Freddie Quell: Green.
Peggy Dodd: Turn them blue. Turn them black. What color are my eyes?
Freddie Quell: Black.
Peggy Dodd: Very good.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After its title, this film has no further opening credits. See more »

Connections

References Barry Lyndon (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Time Hole
(uncredited)
Written by Jonny Greenwood
Performed by London Contemporary Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
A smart, visually keen, very compelling movie in the largest sense, and yet...
7 April 2013 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

The Master (2012)

A remarkably felt movie. If it ends up describing a kind of small, insidious, sometimes sincere cult set mostly in 1950s America, it does so by showing and leading and drawing the viewer in. That is, this is a terrific movie, a cinematic kind of tale. There is (thankfully) no voice-over, no subtitles, no factual help. And it's all perfectly clear. In its way, it summons up the period as well as the different but equally compelling "Revolutionary Road."

Joaquin Phoenix is amazing as Freddie Quell, a deeply troubled but unusually savvy ex-sailor with some unsolved sexual needs but mostly a shifting inner sense of self and of confidence. He is cocky as hell and uncomfortable, too. He is unpredictable, and he knows he's not quite stable but doesn't know how to find stability.

When he stumbles onto the small ship with this strange, peaceful cult harbored and digging into their growing religious philosophy he is puzzled but also welcomed. Especially by the leader, the Master, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. (His wife, well portrayed by Amy Adams, is more skeptical, but she keeps an eye on everyone throughout the film and at times seems to actually be the true master.) Hoffman is terrific, a great match for Phoenix. They have many key scenes with just the two of them in formal or informal conversation and interview, and to watch their faces and little gestures is a lesson in great acting. And it makes for great a great movie.

Almost. What brings everything down a notch or two is the the second half of the movie doesn't live up to the visceral, lyrical, intellectual highs of the first. In fact, you might even wonder if anything further happens of significance toward the end, except for the ending itself and the final conversation between the two leads. It's a subtle but steady disappointment as things continue, realizing there will be no further major turns or new characters or new ideas, just a slight swelling of what is already there.

It's all so well done and the established roles and still enjoyable. The movie as a whole is satisfying, for sure. But you might easily agree that it had the beginnings of something really special, one of the rare ones that would rise and turn and continue to impress all the way through, and then again and again.

But I don't think is makes it, and so what's left is a terrific, subtle impression of how a small cult might grow into a big one. The basis of this, Scientology, is pretty right on, but I think the idea of a small group of slightly misplaced, or slightly needy people (that might be most of us) finding some hope and peace and purpose with each other, is pretty common. That is grows around a personality or two like this one does is probably the step that defines what kind of cult you end up with. Are cults bad? Do they sucker their members? This movie doesn't judge. It just shows with a hint of realization how it might actually happen.

Beautifully done at its best. Some rare moments here worth seeing. And the director and writer Paul Thomas Anderson (check his creds) is increasingly impressive.


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