Drew's Review of The Master
Warning: The Master has much in common with The Tree of Life, and is just a few degrees better. Both are 'challenging movies for serious audiences' (i.e. art-house films, though big budget), critically acclaimed, self-important, exceptionally shot, with well-respected writer/directors, and star first-rate actors. However, both are far more style over substance. The Master is largely an unsettling & unappealing film. Furthermore, it doesn't possess a plot; instead it's as if PT Anderson has drawn from someone's biography (L. Ron Hubbard's comes to mind). There's a huge gulf between the production values (high) and the story it tells (which is not enlightening, edifying, or even engrossing). The acting is good but too bombastic for my taste (when are we going to see a movie in which Phoenix or Hoffman do not shout or cry? Where's the understatement in their performances?) Finally, while watching The Master, I frequently thought of a PBS film about the Jonestown massacre and the Peoples Temple cult led by Jim Jones. That documentary is far more engrossing than The Master.