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A Masterful accomplishment

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11


Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Film: The Master

Release Date: Oct. 12

Studio: Annapurna Pictures, Ghoulardi Film Company

Grade: A


The summer blockbuster season has finally transitioned into the winter’s Oscar season, and barely a month into fall, the bar for both acting and production value has been set.

Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) brings us The Master, a film of impeccable quality as a start of the new season in film.

Set in the immediate aftermath of World War II, The Master stars Joaquin Phoenix (Reservation Road) as Freddie Quell, a violent, alcoholic naval veteran who finds himself without purpose or direction in the newfound peacetime.

Freddie’s hard dying habits of drinking, stealing and fighting get him fired from any job and keep him on the run from any home that will have him.

This all changes when Freddie drunkenly stumbles onto a boat piloted by Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Moneyball), a self-proclaimed writer, doctor, scientist and philosopher who has created his own quasi-religion referred to as “The Cause,” complete with dozens, if not hundreds of devoted followers.

Hoffman gives what may be the performance of his already stellar career as Dodd, lighting up the screen with his overwhelming charisma, sincerity and rare but powerful moments of anger and ferocity.

Dodd takes an immediate fascination with Freddie and invites him to join The Cause in an effort to better his life. At first, the two characters seem to compliment each other; as raw, emotional and intense as Freddie is, Dodd is equally calm, intellectual and sympathetic. The two characters represent opposing extremes in the spectrum of man’s thought: Freddie is emotional and impulsive, whereas Dodd is thoughtful and reasonable, and while this dynamic does shift throughout the film, it would be a terrible spoiler to explain how.

Amy Adams (The Muppets) gives an unforgettable performance as Dodd’s wife, Peggy, shattering the preconceptions of what it means to play the devoted wife to a patriarch such as Dodd.

With a phenomenal score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and some of the most visually stunning shots in recent memory, The Master is a truly beautiful film even when discounting the fantastic acting.

It’s hard to analyze the plot without spoiling it, but it is no exaggeration to say at least 80 percent of the film will leave you in awe from the beauty of the scenery and camera angles alone.

The Master will definitely not be forgotten come Oscar time, and it seems all but a given that Hoffman will take home an award for his captivating performance. While the film may confuse some viewers with its multifaceted approach to its themes, its brilliance cannot be ignored.

The Mastermight just be the best film all year, and it would be a tragic mistake to skip it.

The film is currently playing at select theatres, including the Amherst Dipson Theater across from UB South Campus. Its official release comes Oct. 12.



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