Friday 12 April 2013

The Master [2012]

Watching Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest display of audacity, The Master, with its religious and familial overtones, might provide a sense of déjà vu to those acquainted with his small but rich body of work. I would club it most closely with Magnolia and There Will Be Blood, though strong thematic similarities exist with his other 3 films as well – no wonder, he is among the foremost auteurs of contemporary world cinema. The story deals with the complex friendship between two exquisitely portrayed and seemingly incompatible characters – Freddie Quell (Joaqin Phoenix), an alcoholic, psychologically disturbed, highly volatile, and sex obsessed war veteran, and Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a charlatan, a demagogue and the charismatic leader of a religious cult. The two couldn’t be more different from one another; yet, over the years, these two polarizing personalities develop a strangely powerful bond with each other – initially because of an indigenously made hooch, and gradually due a profound and decidedly homoerotic master-follower relationship. While Dodd, using his controversial technique of hypnosis, attempts to cure Quell of his subconscious trauma, the damaged and unpredictable Quell takes on the role of Dodd’s henchman, beating into silence anyone who questions the cult’s unscientific practices and mumbo-jumbo philosophies. The conflict between rationality and blind religious obeisance was an underlying motif though not the key concern. The two towering central performances were nicely aided by a competent supporting turn by Amy Adams. The vibrant photography and the thumping score, too, deserve mention.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Religious Drama
Language: English
Country: US

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