The Master (P.T. Anderson, 2012)
Joaquin Phoenix – unrecognizable with his aged face, frail figure, and hunched shoulders – becomes Freddie Quell. His facial mannerisms, subtle nuances in his body language, voice inflections, and general presence flawlessly bring to reality a post-war traumatized, foul-mouthed sex addict. Across from him, Philip Seymour Hoffman, without a glitch, is Lancaster Dodd – a charismatic man of power both convincingly slimy and charming at the same time. These two brilliant performances are captured using beautiful and boldly technical cinematography.
So why was I highly disappointed with what was one of my top five most anticipated movies of 2012? Because the relationship between the two main characters felt forced and unnatural, and it didn’t really do anything. There is zero reason for these two to keep coming back to one another. Freddie isn’t looking to belong to something; Lancaster isn’t looking for someone to latch on to him. Anderson seems so cautious to avoid any sort of cliché relationship that he completely whiffs in the other direction. Or maybe that’s the genius behind the whole thing – who would think to make a film about two wackos with no connection who can’t quit each other… This is a hard film to evaluate because the individual parts are much, much greater than the whole. 7.75/10