Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Master (2012

The Master
Year: 2012
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Laura Dern

Before I begin my review….
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…..

I love Christmas, but I am not talking about Christmas. I am talking about a film lover’s Christmas which is awards season!

So for another film which has Oscar buzz surrounding it, The Master. What is my opinion of the Oscar buzz for it after seeing it? Well, I’m not convinced it is the film that is going to win the big one, although it will most probably be one of the ten films in the running. Paul Thomas Anderson should receive a nomination for Best Director, but I don’t think the film has the same suspense of those films chosen for the number one honour in the past few years and may be a tad too confronting.

The acting is the main draw for this film. I am fairly certain that Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams will all earn nominations for this film. It is going to be a big year for the Best Actor category. Including Phoenix, I can see four actors who are going to be up there for the category. That being Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln, Anthony Hopkins for Hitchcock, John Hawkes for The Sessions and Phoenix for The Master. As I haven’t reviewed the other films as yet, it is impossible for me to determine who will win, but as far as Phoenix is concerned, he does give a brilliant performance. However, as he has made his dislike for awards season and everything to do with it known, his chances may have been slaughtered significantly as it is more than likely he would ruffle some feathers of those who make the final decision.

I’ve always been a great admirer of Phoenix’s acting so his outspoken opinion on the matter of nominations and top honours did not really impress me, as I would love to see him win an Academy Award one day, but I would like to see him win it in a gracious and grateful manner.

On the other hand, Hoffman is a big chance for Best Supporting Actor and very much deserving. Adams could well be nominated for Best Supporting Actress and if she does it will be the fourth time she would have been nominated in the category. Even though she was very good, I am not convinced this year will be her year. Again, I will make a more accurate opinion when I see all the other films which have nominees. Rumour has it it may well be the year of Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables.

                The Master is Paul Thomas Anderson’s long awaited follow up to his superb There Will Be Blood. His new film contains the same brilliance in direction and knockout performances as it’s predecessor, but is very confronting and as a result isn’t a film for everyone.

                Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) has returned home from the war front into a life without direction and without purpose. One night, he by chance encounters the leader of faith based organisation The Cause, Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) who takes Quell under his wing and tries to change his life. However, through the many tests Dodd gives Quell, he still exhibits violent actions and erratic emotions, which makes other members of The Cause, including Dodd’s wife, Peggy (Amy Adams) wonder if Quell can really be changed.

                The basis of the film is really an interesting one. Can people really be changed? Quell displays all the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder which has been brought on by his experiences while at war, but no matter what Dodd puts him through, he doesn’t seem to stray too far from the behaviour we see him exhibit at the beginning of the film. Maybe he was always this person even before the war, or maybe Dodd’s strategies for changing him are just not adequate or useful in such a situation. Or did Quell even really want to change?

                The Master is a very confronting film. Partially based on Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard, the activities that you see members of The Cause are quite disturbing and unsettling. The thoughts and activities of Quell are also unsettling. So this film is really not one for the faint hearted and one some people will find vulgar and other people will find weird.

                The pace of the film is very slow and there really is no suspense or feeling of wanting to find out what is going to happen at the end. At no point in time you can see how the film is going to end, which isn’t a bad thing, but what is a bad thing is that lack of wanting to know what is going to happen.

                However, Anderson’s direction is very good. Anderson has a real knack for making things which are not normally considered beautiful so with his choice of images, editing and audio. The film in many ways is a winner visually as he takes pride in every single scene and how it is presented.

                The acting in The Master is just superb by the three main actors. Joaquin Phoenix makes his acting comeback with an explosion. He has some brilliant scenes such as when he is subjected to Dodd’s processing, which are very intense and scary due to his fine performance.

                Phillip Seymour Hoffman is also brilliant. He is extremely charismatic as Dodd and is believable as the sect’s leader who has so many people hanging off his every word. He embodies everything of what this character should be. Amy Adams is also very good as his wife, Peggy. She is a strong female figure that the film needs alongside two very strong male leads.

                The Master is a brilliant film for certain aspects and film scholars will love dissecting each part it. However, it’s slow pace and confrontational fa├žade make it a film which isn’t everyone’s taste.

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