Review: The Master


Lovely to look at, arresting to experience, The Master ticks a whole load of dramatic boxes but ultimately leaves you empty and feeling a little bit like you’ve missed something.

As I said to a friend recently [after seeing said film], I feel like I’m the guy at the back of the room asking ‘Hey, is that Emperor actually wearing any clothes?’

Don’t get me wrong, visually The Master excels and if the two leads, Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, aren’t up for best and/or best supporting actor come Oscar time, then there’s clearly something wrong in the world – they’re both at career-best level and push each other brilliantly. It’s just such a damn shame that director, Paul Thomas Anderson (someone whose work I have admired for a long time) forgot to add any kind of story.

Like I said from at the outset, maybe I’m missing something. Maybe those new threads are really quite shiny and beautiful…

Or maybe you should just go see ARGO instead.


Tell me in the comments below –


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Author: James Whatley

Experienced advertising and communications strategist working in brand, games, and entertainment. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

3 thoughts on “Review: The Master”

  1. I saw The Master and Argo a few days apart and couldn’t agree more. I was expecting a lot more from The Master – in the end it just seemed a bit empty and pointless. Some people like that sort of thing though…

    Oh, and Amy Adams stole it away from both of the leads for me. She was absolutely chilling.

    James Reply:

    Good point re Adams.

  2. Yeah i disagree… weirdly enough it did make me feel a bit empty when the credits rolled, but then so did There Will Be Blood the 1st time i watched it. A few days after and i was thinking about the film a lot (in both cases), and i think The Master needs a couple of viewings.

    The plot, though opaque, is really quite strong. A disillusioned, mentally-crippled war veteran tries to find his way back into society, and finds the most appealing option a closed clique of eccentrics who have taught themselves all the ‘right answers’ to life’s problems. Says a lot about what America has become i think.

    Maybe a little too cerebral for some movie-goers, but i’d still rate it as one of the best films i’ve seen all year. Probably needs another watch.

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