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The Master

The Master

2012 (Paul Thomas Anderson) 14A, 138 minutes

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams

Every movie is a voyage. We trust that the director has a map, with wondrous sights and shipboard entertainment along the way. Our act of submission is not unlike a religious vow, and in “The Master,” Paul Thomas Anderson rewards us with miracles. 

Despite the title, “The Master” is primarily the story of an apprentice. A scowling sailor named Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) survives World War II with bootleg booze and the promise of a better world. But after he's mustered out of the psych ward, the alcoholic predator wanders through prosperous postwar America like a viral reminder of lingering evil. Fleeing from the law, Freddie finds himself hungover aboard a yacht commanded by charismatic mystery man Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Dodd is the founder of a self-help movement called the Cause, which peddles a theology of past-life trauma. 

Joe Williams, St.Louis Post-Dispatch