2012, Movies

The Master (2012, Paul Thomas Anderson)

This is a fascinating┬á film about personality cults – both the people who are lead them and the people who are drawn to them. It’s kind of hard to talk about the film without talking about Phoenix and Hoffman, both of whom are fantastic (as usual) as the film is primarily about their relationship, whether it’s just a father-son, older brother-younger brother relationship, or whether it’s something else entirely. What Quell gets from Dodd is relatively obvious, but it’s somewhat more difficult to see what Dodd gets from Quell. (Somewhat.)

Cults are fascinating things and mysterious to people like me. For whatever reason, I will never fully understand why so many people are attracted to megalomaniacs. I mean, I understand intellectually but I will never understand on an emotional level because of my physical desire to not spend time around people who think they must not only be the centre of attention but who think they must be leading. But this film is among the works of art that have allowed me to at least somewhat glimpse what the need to be around strong personalities like this is like. At least a little. Because, despite his faults, Quell is relatable in a way that most of the empty followers, like Helen Sullivan, are not.

Anyway, this is the kind of movie one wants to watch multiple times and which one wants to argue about afterwards. Very thought-provoking.


  • Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Produced by JoAnne Sellar, Daniel Lupi, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison
  • Written by Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Starring
    • Joaquin Phoenix as Freddie Quell
    • Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd
    • Amy Adams as Peggy Dodd
    • Laura Dern as Helen Sullivan
    • Ambyr Childers as Elizabeth Dodd
    • Rami Malek as Clark
    • Jesse Plemons as Val Dodd
    • Kevin J. O’Connor as Bill William
    • Christopher Evan Welch as John More
    • Madisen Beaty as Doris Solstad
    • Lena Endre as Mrs. Solstad
    • Amy Ferguson as Martha the Salesgirl
    • Patty McCormack as Mildred Drummond
    • Jillian Bell as Susan Gregory
    • Joshua Close as Wayne Gregory
    • Fiona Dourif as Dancer
    • David Warshofsky as Philadelphia Police
    • Steven Wiig as Philadelphia Follower
    • W. Earl Brown as Fighting Businessman
  • Music by Jonny Greenwood
  • Cinematography by Mihai M─âlaimare Jr.
  • Edited by Leslie Jones, Peter McNulty
  • Production companies: JoAnne Sellar Productions, Ghoulardi Film Company, Annapurna Pictures
  • Distributed by The Weinstein Company
  • Release date: September 1, 2012
  • Running time: 137 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Budget: US$32 million
  • Box office: US$28.3 million

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.