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The Master Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Get behind me, Thetan. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    It's also one of the great movies of the year - an ambitious, challenging, and creatively hot-blooded but cool toned project that picks seriously at knotty ideas about American personality, success, rootlessness, master-disciple dynamics, and father-son mutually assured destruction.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    Two things stand out: the extraordinary command of cinematic technique, which alone is nearly enough to keep a connoisseur on the edge of his seat the entire time, and the tremendous portrayals by Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman of two entirely antithetical men

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  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Anderson has taken pains to re-create the '50s with superb production design and gorgeous cinematography. But he seems less concerned with whether the audience is along for the ride. The story can leave viewers at sea, floundering to give meaning to what they are watching.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Paul Thomas Anderson's remarkable sixth feature addresses, by extension, the all-too-human process of eager seekers falling under the spell of charismatic authority figures, be they gurus, dictators or cult leaders. Or, in the case of this masterly production, a couple of spellbinding actors.

    Read Full Review

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Intense, evocative drama examines faith, compulsion.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Master -- a piercing drama from the director of There Will Be Blood about a charismatic leader and his wayward follower that has drawn comparisons to the story of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard -- may be disquieting for younger teens. Many agonizing scenes depict an alcoholic making his own brand of near-poisonous hooch and drinking it, as well as simmering with rage and beating people up, masturbating (genitals aren't shown), having sex (breasts are visible), and more. There's also full-frontal female nudity at a party, period-accurate smoking, and strong language, including "s--t" and "f--k."

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. Is it saying anything about faith and belief? If so, what? Who do you think it's meant to appeal to?
  • Is the Cause a cult? If yes, why do you think so? What separates a cult from a more mainstream religion?
  • Why do you think Freddie could find Lancaster Dodd's brand of religion appealing? What is it about?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The relationship between a master and his acolyte is complicated, bringing up more questions than answers.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Lancaster Dodd appears to truly believe that he's doing good. Freddie Quell almost can't help himself. He's damaged by the war, among many other things, and often acts out of loneliness and anger.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: A man gets into fistfights, seemingly over small things. He pounds on his enemies even when exhorted to stop. Screams, taunts, and insults fly. A man has a fit in a jail cell, ripping his shirt off, kicking the commode into bits, etc.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Men fashion a female form, complete with breasts, out of sand; one of them pretends to have sex with her. Later, the same man pleasures himself on a public beach. A woman makes her husband climax, but the scene isn't particularly sexual; in fact, it seems tinged with anger. A couple is shown in the middle of having sex; the woman's bare breasts are exposed. Women are shown full-frontal naked at a party.

  • language false4

    Language: Fairly frequent use of words including "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," "c--t," "ass," "loser," "p---y," "c--k," "damn," and "douche."

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Kools cigarettes figure prominently.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Period-accurate smoking, and lots of heavy drinking; one character even makes his own very potent brew, which includes chemicals like paint thinner.