Hooked to the silver screen # 3 – Master of Disaster

Least said, soonest mended here.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master’ has been subject to widespread acclaim, with ‘The Guardian’ voting it their ‘Film of the Year’.

Having enjoyed  Anderson’s 2007 film  ‘There will be blood’ and having previously seen and admired the work of both Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, I had high hopes for this movie.  It seems to deal with the relationship between a demobbed drifter (Phoenix) and a figure (Hoffman) based loosely on L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology cult.

Despite seemingly having little or nothing in common, these two characters are bonded somehow and the movie wanders inconclusively through the period during which they are getting to know one another.  Hoffman in particular is tremendous – full of blather and bombast, only one step removed from the ‘snake oil salesmen’ of the American West.

Despite his tour de force performance, ‘The Master‘ meanders ineffectually along for 143 minutes before simply petering out.  I have read numerous analyses of what each character symbolises or how this is really a love story and none of what I’ve read  makes much sense to me.

It’s not that I am the kind of person who must always have their narratives served up in a linear and/or naturalistic manner, but I’m afraid ‘The Master’ – Hoffman’s performance aside – just doesn’t cut the mustard for me.

‘The Master‘ strikes me as a film that is weighed down by its own portentousness and gravitas.  “Look at me”, it seems to be saying, ” I am a very important movie about very profound issues.”  For me, it was just a waste of an evening.


Joaquin Phoenix & Philip Seymour Hoffman in ‘The Master’


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