27 January 2013, Singapore – What the f*** ?! The Master was touted as a sneak peak in to the mysterious beginnings of Scientology. Is this a made up religion, or a cult? What do the followers believe? Is Ron Hubbard anything like Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character Lancaster Dodd? The film begs all these questions and more, but obstinately doesn’t answer.
Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, an aimless war veteran in the 1950s who drinks gasoline and wonders why he’s so fucked up in the head. He stows away on a boat and meets the boss-man, Lancaster Dodd, who proclaims that he is merely a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist, a theoretical philosopher, but above all he is a man. So begins this strange bromance in the form of guru and hapless pupil, enabling each other to be as strange as humanly possible.
Director Paul Thomas Anderson includes all these puzzling little details in the film. One might ask if they were all necessary, since the film runs close to three hours. Shot beautifully and with the amazing acting skills of three Oscar nominated big names, The Master is like a Rubik’s cube – no fun for the ordinary person, but some geeks will love it.