33 of 44 people found the following review helpful
lives of quiet desperation lived desperately with so few choices,
This review is from: The Master (DVD)
this is a very sad, very true movie. even though it has major talent abounding in it, it is an art film. i doubt it will appeal to many aside from the art house crowd. fortunately, i am such a person. there is at once a lot and a little going on in this film. but if you pare it down to its core, it is our desperate need to find meaning in living a life in a world which may have no meaning, basically, we all have a choice. we can go the meaningless route, which is what the joaquin phoenix character represents, or we can carve meaning out any way feasible and sell it to ourselves and even others. (such people are rarely convinced by only converting themselves to a specific meaning). hence we get THE MASTER, as played by PS Hoffman, which is based on LRon Hubbard, the author of DIANETICS and founder of Scientology.
this is a curious blend of belief. it is part psychiatry, part religion, part science fiction, part regression therapy and a whole heck of a lot of control. Hoffman's Lester Dodd is not a con man. It would be a far different movie if he were. He has a need to find a belief, follow it and convert others to it. he is abaolutely committed to his work, especially the writings of it.
jonny greenwood's music plays throughout and really heightens the weirdness of the whole movement,
do the religion and its adherents seem abnormally weird? a little but one has to remember that the underpinnings of all organized religion require some out of this physical world leap of belief. we get into the past lives going back trillions of years but the alien aspect of scientology is mentioned only by a sceptic who says earth hasn't been around that long. that's where scientology gets into the alien Thetans who its adherents need to expell, which reminds me of catholic exorcism, however, writer-director paul thomas anderson is content just to leave that aspect at the trillions of years comment.
phoenix, hoffman, and the actor who plays hoffman's wife are all up for the oscar. phoenix turns in an especially powerful performance of a tortured soul adrift (ironically we picking him up in the closing days of WWII as a sailor in the Navy.)
this is a thinking person's movie. if you are looking for an evening's entertainment, there is NO element of escapist relief to this film, which is rather the point of the whole thing.
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