Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film The Master is worth seeing. Like There will Be Blood, this film is not so much a narrative as a study in human nature. Utilizing the acting talents, to say nothing of the frightening expressiveness, of his actors Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anderson takes the viewer on a disquieting journey with commanding personalities through gorgeous images to…I’m not sure where. More than anything this film is a series of moments that will stay with you for days and days and possibly a lifetime.
Regarding the themes of the piece, there is of course the savage nature of Phoenix’s Freddie Quell and the brooding explosiveness of Seymour’s Lancaster Dodd, but it is the underlying repressed sexuality, the stark images of nakedness that haunt both of these men that seems to be a key to this film. These guys are not happy. Their sexuality seems to be tied very tight, in ruins, destroyed by some trickery of long lost love. This is not something these characters really want to address. They would rather stare you down – there is no doubt about that – or yell or punch you or make you a drink again and again.