Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson (screenplay)
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Laura Dern
The latest film from mythic American auteur Paul Thomas Anderson is an ambitious, beautiful mess. With 2007’s There Will Be Blood, he announced himself as one of the greatest working directors, altering and unhinging the film community much in the same way that that movie’s protagonist alters and unhinges himself and the landscape.
The Master is both a historical continuation and thematic sibling to that film, which concluded in 1927. Anderson skips over The Great Depression and World War II, and picks up at the dawn of the 1950s, in a glamorous age of excess and social repression. Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), a disturbed Naval veteran, does not belong to this era. He is too overtly sexualized and too much of an alcoholic to fit in with the tidy, polished department store where he works briefly as a portrait photographer at the beginning of the movie.