Movie Review: "The Master" by Derek Clem

Release: 2012
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams
Rated: R
Run Time: 137 min

Paul Thomas Anderson continues to prove himself as a master of visual craftsmanship in his story about the relationship between two men; one a honed mentor, the other a wayward animal.

With The Master, Anderson displays strength in his visual compositions and in his ability to direct actors. While watching the film I was in awe witnessing these two heavyweight actors, Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, duke it out for supremacy over the other. The amazing thing is neither achieve that supremacy. This level stagnation of dynamic personalities between the two characters lends itself completely to the themes of the story.

I have no doubt in my mind that the two leads taking turns trying to out-do the other to maintain a sense of dominance, in one way or the other, was built entirely by design on Paul Thomas Anderson's part. I respect a great deal of Anderson's craftsmanship in this movie, from resonating the details of the time period to his un-manipulative score. The only problem is that while his attention to detail may show the capabilities of a master auteur, his use of repetition within this story created a monotony that began to wane my interests early on in this 137 minute film. While I understand those ideas work metaphorically in accord to the relationship between Hoffman and Phoenix's characters, those connections don't make me appreciate the movie all the more.

The story was a valiant effort but too banal by design to really achieve anything interesting. I found all of the acting to be absolutely amazing, but I have to say, as a complete film, this is my least favorite work from the director. If you do plan on seeing The Master, I recommend that you watch it in a theater, that way you feel like you have to stick around and finish the movie. I would imagine that if you were to wait and make it a rental, while watching, you'd discover yourself finding better ways to occupy your time.