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The Master (2012)

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A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader.
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Movies Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson's new film Phantom Thread marks the eighth feature film that the director has also written. Discover other films he has both written and directed.

See more Paul Thomas Anderson movies

Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 76 wins & 179 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
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V.A. Doctor
Mike Howard ...
Sarah Shoshana David ...
V.A. Nurse
...
Matt Hering ...
V.A. Patient
Dan Anderson ...
V.A. Patient
...
V.A. Patient
...
V.A. Patient
Patrick Wilder ...
V.A. Patient (as Patrick Biggs)
Ryan Curtis ...
V.A. Patient
Jay Laurence ...
V.A. Patient
Abraxas Adams ...
V.A. Patient
Tina Bruna ...
Portrait Customer
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Portrait Customer
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Storyline

Returning from Navy service in World War II, Freddie Quell drifts through a series of breakdowns. Finally he stumbles upon a cult which engages in exercises to clear emotions and he becomes deeply involved with them. Written by Alan Young, edit Hal Issen

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

| |  »

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 September 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Master  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$736,311, 16 September 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$16,377,274

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$28,258,060
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first of three films in the current decade to be shot in 65mm and screened theatrically in 70mm. The subsequent titles were The Hateful Eight (2015) (also distributed by The Weinstein Company) and Dunkirk (2017). See more »

Goofs

The architectural style of the house where they stay in Philadelphia is known as California craftsman, which is not found anywhere in or near Philadelphia. See more »

Quotes

Lancaster Dodd: If you figure a way to live without serving a master, any master, then let the rest of us know, will you? For you'd be the first person in the history of the world.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The DVD special-features menu has a reversed image of Joaquin Phoenix's face. You can tell by the scar above his lip. See more »

Connections

Featured in Half in the Bag: Django Unchained and 2012 Recap (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Changing Partners
Written by Larry Coleman Jr. (as Larry Coleman) and Joe Darion
Performed by Helen Forrest
Courtesy of Olden Golden Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
P.T. Anderson makes another under appreciated masterpiece
3 November 2012 | by See all my reviews

Often in the history of film there have been remarkable gems, hailed by few and ignored by the masses. Over time many of these gain the credit they deserve, Citizen Kane was panned by many critics at the time and only with the passing of time has its influence and brilliance been generally acknowledged. P.T. Anderson's new film The Master may not be Citizen Kane but it is certainly in the same vein. As Orson Welles modeled Charles Foster Kane after William Randolph Hearst, Anderson's new film focuses on another controversial historical figure, L. Ron Hubbard. Like Welles, Anderson treats his characters with the same mixture of examination and empathy that leaves you questioning pre- conceptions and wondering what truly defines an individual.

In post-war America Freddie Quell (played by Joaquin Phoenix) , a former soldier with an abnormal libido and a hobby of making near toxic alcohol, is wandering through life like an actor oblivious of his stage. His course takes a slight detour when he wakes up aboard a ship with Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his followers who make up "The Cause", a cult-ish religion clouded in the guise of science, philosophy and psychology. Dodd sees in Quell the opportunity to display the power of his new methods, and in Dodd Quell sees a mentor and hope for answers to the questions that plague all humanity.

Like many of Anderson's films the pace can often be trying and the often surreal visions expounded are certainly not for everyone's taste. Images of swirling water are only a drop in the bucket of metaphors Anderson buries his audience in. Like Anderson's last film, 2007's There Will Be Blood, gorgeous imagery and an eerie score help create a dream-like sense of bewilderment that stays with you long after the lights go up and the popcorn is stale.

Anderson's ability to craft film as art is only matched by his eye for talent. Philip Seymour Hoffman, in his fifth collaboration with Anderson, plays Dodd with wonderful simplicity that allows the complexity of the character speak for itself. With subtly and reserve Hoffman lets his character's egotism and magnetism shine through Anderson's typically biting dialogue. Joaquin Phoenix, still recovering from his 2010 film debacle I'm Still Here, gives a powerhouse performance reminding us all what was so intriguing to begin with. Somehow Phoenix makes a character who should come off as a simpleton violent alcoholic a very empathetic and human individual. In the end he is still not very likable, like many people in this world, but you can nevertheless sympathize with his mortal struggle. Whether or not Phoenix will get the Best Actor Oscar as many have discussed is still anyone's guess, especially with the multi-Oscar winning Daniel Day Lewis (who won his second Oscar for Anderson's There Will Be Blood) in the competition. Rounding out the cast is Office darling Amy Adams as Dodd's wife Peggy, who has a far more pragmatic view of the relationship between Dodd and Quell.

It is a tragedy how often brilliance is not recognized by those in its presence. P.T. Anderson with masterpieces like Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood under his belt would surely be Oscar material, but he is not. After the fall when Spielberg and all the other mainstream directors release their fare Anderson's little art film will receive little attention. He may get a nod with yet another nomination, but the sad truth is that his work may simply be ahead of his time. Just as his films are too "arty" for mainstream box office success the Oscars are too mainstream for him. So maybe he won't get the award until he's thirty years deep like Scorsese or perhaps never at all, but perhaps that's okay. After all he is in good company, there have been other perfectionist film makers who never won the Best Director statue, like Orson Welles.


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