Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Master - Incredibly Believable Acting, Not So Incredible Story

The Master was a movie I expected SO much more out of.  While the acting was beyond incredible by leads Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, the story just didn’t line up with the caliber of the performances.  The plot centers around a disturbed World War II veteran (played by Phoenix) looking for a place in the world.  As time goes by he comes into contact, almost serendipitously, with a group of people and its charismatic leader Lancaster Dodd, simply called Master (played by Hoffman).  The two form an interesting bond and go on to develop an even stranger relationship over the course of their time together.  The group, which many in the film label as a cult, travels around the country preaching its strange views and beliefs led by both Master and his wife Peggy (played by Adams).  An interesting look at both post-traumatic stress and the inner psychological workings of a cult, the film feels at times more like a pseudo-documentary centered around real historical characters, which is only a further testament of the actors ability to embody their roles.  Still, the movie was just strange and left me wondering what the point of it all was.  There is no a-ha moment or big reveal; nor is there any direct meaning to the events that occur (at least that I could ascertain).  I would have liked them to develop the history of the characters further as I think it would have put a lot of the interactions (namely between Hoffman and Phoenix) into perspective.  Overall, this is definitely a thought provoking movie and one that requires your complete attention.  So don’t throw it in your DVD player before bed because I assure you, it will be difficult to make it through the full two hours and change.

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