Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
The Master is a movie that has taken the U.S. by storm and is already tipped to do well when the Oscar nominations are announced in January.
The film marks the return to the director's chair for Paul Thomas Anderson while the Oscar credentials of the three lead actors is truly eye-watering.
Set in America in the years following World War II, a charismatic intellectual (Hoffman) launches a faith-based organization and taps a young drifter (Phoenix) as his right-hand man.
But as the faith begins to gain a fervent following, the onetime vagabond finds himself questioning the belief system he has embraced, and his mentor.
The Master is a fantastically acted movie where Hoffman and Phoenix in particular are at the top of their game.
But the major problem with this film is it is a character study rather than a story; while the characters are fleshed out and relationships build the plot never really moves forward too much.
It is great to see Joaquin Phoenix back on the big screen as he delivers an incredibly tortured performance as Freddie Quell.
Quell is a man who struggles to rejoin society after returning from the war and it looking for a place to fit in and belong - but he struggles with his anger and drinking problems.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is an acting powerhouse and he delivers a fantastic performance as Lancaster Dodd aka The Master.
Hoffman has such a presence in this role as he dominates and commands every scene that he is in.
The scenes that Phoenix and Hoffman share are the most powerful as it is a battle of wills between a man who is on a destructive path and another who his manipulated his world and the people in it.
And while these characters and the central relationship is being developed the story never really moves forward - the pacing is incredibly uneven and this doesn't really help the problem.
There is no doubt that The Master does challenge ideas as well as throws up some interesting questions but the story really fails to fully engage and that is a major shame.
However it is a beautiful film to look at as director Paul Thomas Anderson really does seem to have captured the look at the feel of the time.
This is one of those movies that you will either love or hate but it is a film that has got people talking.
The film itself I found to be quite dull but the central performances are its saving grace as Phoenix and Hoffman are simply superb - I think Oscar nods for both really are just around the corner.
The Master is out now
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw