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Within seconds, you know a new Anderson film has befallen you… the score by Johnny Greenwood creeping in, the static observation of a soldier preparing for battle, slow camera movements, wide landscapes. Within minutes, I was angry that I did not manage to catch a 70mm screening of the film. Also within minutes, it becomes clear that Joaquin Phoenix brings it on, his aged and very manly face dominating the screen, needing no words to show the effect war and battle, or maybe solitude had on him. There is no doubt that he will remain somehow scarred, and that whatever adventures and developments the rest of his young life will bring about, there is little doubt that he will be a troubled person, and a trouble person. A bit like what an aged James Dean promised to become, maybe.

When he meets the Master (do I need to comment on Philip Seymore Hoffmann’s performance? Really?), even though it’s not very clear what the Master is master of, it becomes clear that this is a match made in heaven. The disoriented  and angry war veteran gets a leader, the leader gets another devotee, one who might become useful at some point. In the meantime, some slightly crude and twisted psychology tools are used to impress the followers, and to shape a community.

In contrast to Anderson’s “There will be Blood”, the evolving drama is… less of a drama. I read in some reviews that the reviewers found the film “boring”. I disagree, but I know what they mean. It’s a bit like that famous description of Beckett’s “En Attendant Godot”: “Nothing happens. Twice.” The film drags along, and then it breaks off (a bit similar to “There will be Blood”) and continues somewhere and somewhen else, and it ends. If you prefer a robot fight at the end of a movie,or at least two people kissing and Hans Zimmer music vehemently indicating that it’s the right people kissing, then you may have trouble with “The Master”. For the rest of us, this is proper cinema. Large scale!

One Comment

  1. I watched this last weekend and I still don’t even know where to begin with writing my review. Phoenix really brought his A game fo shizzle.

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