Movie Review – The Master

Posted: June 16, 2013 in Movie Reviews
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To analyze Master exhaustively is hugely impossible. I bet no one can get the complete meaning of the film. No one could get even what Paul Thomas Andersons vision too was when he made the movie. Yet we call this a brilliant film and hail me as a genius. Why? Let’s figure it out.


Paul Thomas Anderson is a confident young man. Give him a one line story. Boy meets girls. He could make a 2 hour film out of it with class, breaking every stereotype cinema is ever associated with. His confidence is evident on screen. His makes movies so confidently which makes us doubt whether we are up to his knowledge level. A clever way of making us analyze his film.

Freddy Quell is played by Joaquin Phoenix, one hell of an actor. There are only two actors who could make you hate them without any bit of Sympathy. One is Joaquin Phoenix and the other one is  Malcolm McDowell. The most villainous guys ever. Take for example, he could turn even a simple film like Gladiator into one of the most absorbing tales by doing his role so perfectly. Similarly Malcom McDowells A Clockwork Orange and Caligula are examples of his bad ass outings and see to what extent he could go for his roles…

Freddy Quell is a World War 2 veteran, an alcoholic who makes moonshine syrups and is a sex addict. This film too in a way is an anti war film. Freddy doesn’t know what to do with his life once he is out of the war. In the initial few scenes his longing for sex is quite evident. He masturbates in beach seeing sand sculpture of a woman. Next when a series of questions is asked for him. All his answers are related to sex. People in way undergo a huge amount of depression which couldn’t be said in words. Sex could be a great relief to them. Even for a normal person to have not had sex right from the day he starts to have sexual inclination to the day of first sex is tough. When he is deprived of sex its sexual poverty. The worst affected people are the ones in army. They hardly get to see any ladies around. In addition to it they are surrounded by blood wherever they go. That adds to the depression. It’s tough to be always keeping nation in mind for the war. War is nothing but a fight which happens due to two selfish individuals in which a lot of innocents get killed and a lot more get affected.

Freddy Quell is one such guy. When he is out there facing the world he gets to meet Lancaster Dodd, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, a Paul Thomas Anderson favorite. Dodd is the leader of a religious movement called The Cause. Dodd and Freddie like each other mutually. Dodd invites Freddie for his daughter’s marriage. I could sense some incestuous relationship going between Dodd and his daughter. After some time I wasn’t even sure whether she was her real daughter. You can never be sure of anything with a movie like this.

Freddie starts to worship Dodd and Dodd starts considering his as his disciple after firing a series of disturbing questions at him. Another brilliant scene which keeps us to the edge of our seat. PTA brings thrill at most reclusive moments. His specialty that! That scene paves the way for what is to come in the latter part of the movies. Freddie is put into a lot of mental tyranny. The questions are so severe that it makes him writhe in pain. Similarly an exercise he undergoes much later in the movie where he walks to and fro in the room with the whole audience watching him.

Freddie’s hero worship becomes violent when a person in dinner party questions Dodd’s methods. In a movie where every character is queer, that guy who asks questions to Dodd is the only normal human being so he obviously looks out of place. He gets beaten almost to death by Freddie who makes the other members of the family conspicuous. They want him to quit alcohol to become part of their league but again Freddie attacks an individual and put in jail along with Dodd which leads to an excellent scene. Freddies anger and Dodds quietness combines to form a great scene.

Freddie then succumbs to every exercise given by Dodd. But couldn’t come out either of his temper or his alcoholic habit. He again assaults a person who questions Dodd when Dodd releases his book. Dodd too loses his temper when being asked questions again and again by the hostess. During another exercise Fredddie runs away from them to meet his ex girl friend and when he knows that she is married he actually gets happy because he doesn’t have to live life without the guilt. He thinks that he has become normal and has got accustomed to life outside war but he gets a vision of Dodd and tries to go meet him where he is given a chance of either to stay with “The Cause” or to leave them altogether. Freddie leaves them and picks up a woman in local pub. While having sex he talks about the questions when he was first interviewed by Dodd. They laugh and continue to make love with her. Finally he goes to the place where there is sand sculpture and sleeps next to it.

This film was nominated for Oscar but giving Oscar to this film would be an insult to it. This film is much beyond Oscars. I know everyone in the jury would have known that this film is sheer master class but to defend this film and give points would’ve been a burden. Films like these will keep coming and going with or without recognition but will be there in the list of every film buffs who want to improve to movie knowledge.


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