Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams
Jaoquin Phoenix gives one of the greatest performances in cinematic history in Paul Thomas Anderson’s captivating new film, The Master. It explores the deep dark recesses of a troubled man with an alcohol problem. What’s more, it explores the starting of the religion/cult Scientology. We see the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, in a way we’ve never seen before. The whole movie is just absolutely fascinating, and is certainly one I could watch again.
Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), is a disturbed, dim-witted, alcoholic man that had worked in the Navy during WWII. After he leaves the navy, circumstances lead him onto the boat of L. Ron Hubbard (Philip Seymour Hoffman), founder of Scientology and a firm believer that he and Freddie were friends in a past life. They both become close pals as we see not only the trials and tribulations of Freddie, but also Hubbard.
I will begin by saying that the supporting performances were excellent. Amy Adams was great , however, her role was much smaller than I had anticipated considering she is nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars. On the other hand, Philip Seymour Hoffman gave a masterful performance in his own right, playing L. Ron Hubbard as a charismatic and also troubled man. The only problem I had was that Hoffman didn’t completely submerse himself into this role, it felt more like an excellent impression of Hubbard, but not the actual man himself (which is the same trouble I had with Day-Lewis in Lincoln).
Now to the masterful part. Joaquin Phoenix was more than fantastic in this role. His performance is perfection. This character that he played felt so authentic, as if it was not even written, but a real person. The emotions that were expressed by him were so powerful, it was like watching a dark and disturbed Forrest Gump. He’s not as dumb as Forrest, but he certainly embodies much of the naivity of him. I cannot praise Phoenix’s performance enough, it was just astounding. I was formerly rooting for Hugh Jackman to win the Oscar for Best Actor this year, but after seeing Phoenix in The Master, there’s no doubt in my mind that the statuette should go to him.
Paul Thomas Anderson has created a quiet masterpiece. Film critics love The Master, mainstream audiences not so much. It's gutsy, it's original, and wickedly entertaining. With incredible dialogue, great cinematography, a very intriguing story and some of the best acting I’ve ever seen, The Master is one of the Top 5 movies of 2012.