Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Master (2012)

A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader. [imdb]

Nominated for 3 Oscars:

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix
Best Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams

For month I've been really curious about The Master. Will I love it? What's it really about... Well, I saw it last night and... I can't really show my support for it, unfortunately. Paul Thomas Anderson picks it up & elevates it and then let's it fall on its ass. This is an unbalanced, inconsistent film and I can totally understand why Oscar refused to get near it, in anything other than acting.
Because the acting IS what saves it. I don't even wanna imagine it without its two leads. Joaquin Phoenix is fascinating to look at and, in my opinion, easily delivers his best performance to date: so deep, so raw, so scary. It's an uncomfortable performance that will have its own cult following in the years to come. He nearly didn't make Oscar's list, but I'm so pleased he did - he's the best of his line-up and a snub would've felt outrageous. But it's his co-lead that gets even bigger applause from me: Philip Seymour Hoffman is just as much a part of this film as Joaquin is. The whole supporting campaign is bullshit. PSH has the screentime, his own path in the story and is FANTASTIC at it; he really is one of my favorite actors of the past decade - charming in every scene,  perfectly balancing the fanatic with the vulnerable man trying to figure out what he's saying. A great-great performance from such a versatile actor.
The cinematography is beautiful, and would've deserved a nomination (Great work from my fellow Romanian - Mihai Malaimare Jr). The music is interesting, the editing quite good, adequate costume design. Amy Adams is ok, but not great. Did her nomination cost Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy) hers? That's crazy. Amy follows the path she's put on, but the character is quite one-dimensional.
The directing is good at times, but not always consistent. Where the film fails must be in the screenplay. It can't decide if this is a mood piece, or some meaningful story-driven drama; ends up not being any of it completely. The last 30 minutes, at least, are quite boring and I question some of the "writer"'s choices. That's too bad, I think PTA played too much & it could've been much better had it been more grounded.
My rating for the film: 6.5/10. Both its failures & successes feel like an inside job.

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