Furthermore, we aren’t given the opportunity to understand the complicated relationship between Freddie and Dodd. They seem inexplicably linked, but for reasons known only to them. I wanted to understand more about the pair, about their past, about their futures. For some reason, director Paul Thomas Anderson wanted to keep any clear motivations for the characters a secret. Freddie and Dodd are played superbly by Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. These are actors far above the typical Hollywood fare. If they can’t get the film’s message across, the message is too blurry to see. The film looks amazing, with beautiful scenes and deft camera work. Anderson’s directing style is distinct. But I wanted more – I needed the characters to be more transparent, more accessible. The film is long, a significant investment of time. Without a stronger payoff, it just seems like a waste.
The Master is not a film I’d want to see again. Unlike There Will Be Blood, which at times was brilliant, The Master reaches for something poignant and doesn’t quite grasp it. There is much to say about the people in the film. Sometimes understatement does the story a disservice. Had I been led just a little bit further, I might have been more interested.