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
Messages: The relationship between a master and his acolyte is complicated, bringing up more questions than answers.
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: 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: 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: Fairly frequent use of words including "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," "c--t," "ass," "loser," "p---y," "c--k," "damn," and "douche."
Consumerism: Kools cigarettes figure prominently.
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.
Fan Reviews provided by
The Master by wallythom
The worst tripe masquerading as some great intellectual character play. Would the sheep write such rave reviews if the critics had not gushed over it? The Emperor has no clothes, folks.
Master Disaster by Lazard
Master is a self-indulgent exercise in art for art's sake designed to appeal to critics and Hollywood insiders not the ticket-buying public. There is no plot, no narrative arc-just a series of meaningless, disconnected vignettes. Moviegoers who are expecting an absorbing story and well-drawn characters will be disappointed. The showing we attended displayed no discernible audience reaction during or after the film's ending. One of the worst movies I have ever seen.
The Master by wkr@themovies
A magnicantly acted waste of time. There is at least one acadamy award nomination hidden amidst the boozy-meandering nonsense. Both of the lead actors do "disturbed" really well.....but to pay money to witness the angst without insight....it was not a good evening spent. No redeeming quality....should have walked out... but kept thinking something would eventually make sense. 2 + hours later....NOPE...
Lost in It's Own Beautiful Reflection by alandm61
Beautifully shot capturing the postwar period visually in "you are there" color and composition. Music, too...but relentlessly intense as is the film, which is promising for first 1/2 hour. The film, the focus, the "bigger" picture gets swallowed up by the sometimes brilliant performances o its male leads, but--sadly, disappointingly--loses its way in their father son, guru and sycophant, brother, and almost lovers, in this...and the audience is left lost. Not in a productive way. The movie is grossly repetitious, I suppose because it could not find its way out of the force field of these two men. Most important, it is impossible to consider Phoenix's role as that of a seriously mentally disturbed man--even before the PTSD, despite the drinking, so there is little tension really between "master and slave," which it wants to be. Or whatever it wanted to be. Though difficult to tolerate, at times, it's worth seeing.
Gigantic Disappointment by R1234
Great cast, great movie maker, fantastic reviews, but horrific, tortuous experience. My wife and I had no clue of what the story really was about and got nothing but boredom form our 2 hour experience.
Not everyone's cup of tea by branagh
This is a tighter film than PTA's There WIll Be Blood. There are some compelling scenes, but the energy gets diluted. Phoenix's character is all Id and Hoffman's all Super Ego. There were a few moments of ambiguity that I relished. But just as the course of history does not have a satisfying trajectory, so, too, the arc of this story.
Joaquin Phoenix is great, the story..........ehhhh. by SCBRoslyn
In a nutshell, Joaquin Phoenix is the entire entertainment value in this movie. His character development is outstanding!
I also thought, what I'll call "the psychology," of the film is well done. (Exploring the psychology of cult recruitment and a believable examination of a drifter's mind.)
But, the movie itself is disappointing. With a terrific cast and a provocative subject matter, the story could've been so much more, but isn't. The promotions make it seem like it's going to not only be a character study, but also a look at the shady underpinnings of a cult.....it does with Phoenix' character, but it is lacking in every other area.
I think this is the first time I've ever written a response to a movie on this site where I'll suggest that it's OK if you wait for this one to come to cable.
So, 4 out of 4 stars for Phoenix, 2 out of 4 stars for the movie as a whole.
SNOOZE ALERT!! by kkgnca
First of all, let me say I LOVE movies and all of their elements... the acting, the cinematography, the directing., the music, everything. But most of all the story. And that is what is missing here. Without it, you are not left with much. Yes, the acting is very good, although a little too nuanced and overblown for my tastes. The directing...well, it's hard to tell since there is no story. There was no investment in the characters. I didn't care what happened to any of them. Personally, this is one of those times I feel like I was sucked in by critics' opinions who need to feel they have discovered the next work of cinematic art. Unforgettable? The only thing that is unforgettable is the fact I wasted too much time and money on this experience. There was no audience reaction at the end of the movie. Unusual for a touted movie in limited release such as this. Stay home and take a nap for free.
You've got to be kidding !!!! by stewski
I love intelligent, thought provoking films. This was not it. I went to this movie yesterday and came out wondering why this movie was creating so much positive feedback. It shouldn't have been called The Master, but should have been called The Nut Jobs Who Join Cults. The acting was excellent especially with what they had to work with but this was babble for the sake of babble. This was one of those movies where people are told they are supposed to think it's wonderful so they say it's wonderful - hmmm sounds like a cult. It is scary how easily the public can be led along by the nose and convinced they should think a certain way. Well, the emperor has no clothes and this movie has no THERE there. Save your money.
"The Master": Unlike Any Film You Will See This Year by deelow14
In a year full of hyper-edited, computer-saturated blockbusters coming off the Hollywood assembly line, seeing "The Master" is like getting a dose of much needed oxygen. With genre pictures continuing to try and stuff as much backstory and needless subplots as possible, "The Master" is remarkably simple. It's an actual film for people that like that kind of stuff. Shot on gorgeous 70 mm, with every texture and detail, marveously grafted onto the screen, it is a film that delivers feelings, not answers. For those looking for a scathing indictment of Scientology or even a blood and drug soaked orgy along the lines of P.T. Anderson's other films ala "Boogie Nights," might want to look elsewhere. Instead, if you want to see two of Hollywood's most gifted actors go head to head, in some of the most riotious, real, and bravura displays of acting you're bound to see in the cinema all year...you're in luck.