Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Nominated: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress
A very short blog entry this time round and it’s mainly because I just didn’t enjoy The Master – it was just a little too bizarre for me. I know that the creator of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, inspired Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character and despite how Anderson says the film isn’t about the “religion” the whole film was marred by the association. I am of the view that Scientology isn’t a religion but bears far more resemblance to a cult and this film hasn’t really changed that view.
I found it an uncomfortable watch with many of Dodd’s processes becoming repetitive in the extreme and go on for an unnecessarily long time. The fanatical, almost blind faith of his followers disturbs me. They seem to have little to no individual thought, instead parroting the views of The Master, Dodd. Except Freddie, Joaquin Phoenix, and Dodd does everything he can to condition him so that he follows ‘The Cause’, ultimately removing everything that makes the character interesting.
Very few of the characters are likeable, the only exception being Phoenix’s Freddie and then I only found him interesting because he manages to walk away from the cause. The relationship between him and Dodd is a strange one, and could be seen as having homosexual overtones to it. Freddie is a damaged character, due in part to his service during WWII and doesn’t fit neatly into society. He has an interesting view towards life, which is highly sexualized. There were moments in the film where I was unsure if they were really happening or just an illusion in Freddie’s head. Anderson has recurring images of the sea and a sand lady built on the beach during the war, which mainly appear during a particular period of transition in Freddie’s life. Phoenix makes for compelling viewing but I just couldn’t shake my feeling of unease, especially in any scene where Hoffman was spouting his diatribe, which unfortunately did not endear his character to me. The same with Amy Adams who, I usually find compelling. She is aggressive in her support of the cause.