Everybody Needs a Reality to Follow: The Master

The Master, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is his sixth movie. The director usually examines American society perfectly. In his previous film There Will Be Blood, he tries to examine how capitalism begins in the USA with a great but simple story. In The Master, Anderson examines why people need a family. Is it necessary? How do family connections work? Does family mean a shelter, protection?
            There are two main characters in the movie: Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) and Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Quell is a soldier who has been in a war very recently. When he comes back from his homeland, he cannot fit the society and he is uncertain of his future. On the other hand, Lancaster Dodd is a leader who tries to educate Quell and make him a member of his community, “The Cause”.

            To start with, the best part of the movie is the actors. Philip Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix’s performances are to perfection. Some scenes where there are dialogues between two actors are unforgettable. The way they look at each other, speak to each other reveals all the features of both characters. In these scenes, we can understand that Quell needs to be educated because he just follows his basic instinct in the movie which is why Dodd likens him a bad animal. The way actor Philip Hoffman acts his character gives away lots of clues about the character. Dodd is a character who does not show his feelings much. But sometimes, he loses his temper and we understand that although he looks confident and knows what he is doing, he is not certain. With these great actors, the characters are played flawlessly. In Oscars, I assume that Phoenix and Hoffman will be nominated at least.
            The director, Paul Thomas Anderson is the one who makes the movie perfect. In the hands of another director, this simple story of the movie might have turned out to be a disaster. Anderson knows how to tell his story properly and what to focus on to be effective. He is not interested in details of the story. He tries to keep it as simple as possible. He wants to show us the reactions, behaviour of the characters in specific events, such as the experiments done to Quell by Dodd. There is not one scene unrelated or far-fetched in the movie. This shows Anderson’s skill to tell his concerns and story properly.
             Overall, Paul Thomas Anderson and the actors do a great job. They deserve awards from the Academy. I hope that the Academy will give them due praise and credit.

Kaan Akın (ELIT II)

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