We scanned the newspaper, looking for a movie to go to. Arkansas Democrat Gazette reviewer Piers Marchant gave The Master a 90/100. The movie starred Joaquin Phoenix! “How can we go wrong?” we thought.
When only a dozen or so people entered the theater, that might have been a tip-off that it was time to request our money back. Movies, like restaurants, attract crowds when they’re good. An empty parking lot is a warning sign.
But what we needed here wasn’t a warning sign, but a wall preventing entry. This movie was horrible. Joaquin Phoenix gave his usual, splendid performance as a disturbed individual. But the character had absolutely no redeeming features. None. I frankly didn’t care what happened to him because he was so repulsive.
The supporting characters were equally repulsive or, at best, flat. Didn’t much care what happened to them either.
The film meandered, and went nowhere. The “big reveal” at the end of the movie was subtle enough that my husband missed it entirely. My reaction was more like, “That’s it?”
Basically, The Master is a two hour and sixteen minute character study of a man who becomes brain dead after years of drinking his own moonshine , which he concocts using a variety of substances including turpentine. There’s no dramatic change in the character’s thinking. Understandable since he isn’t even capable of thinking.
Save your money. Watch the trailer. It’s actually more interesting (and thankfully shorter) than the film. And if you’re thinking the trailer seems pointless and weird — well then, you’ve captured the essence of The Master.