Anderson's filmmaking skills are tremendous, but he suffers here under his own conceit.
Julian Roman - MovieWeb
The movie may not even be fully comprehensible on first viewing, the bigger patterns in the narrative and the rhythms of the filmmaking revealing themselves more fully and clearly only with a return visit.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
This is a movie that defies understanding even as it compels reverent, astonished belief.
A.O. Scott - New York Times
Aiming for epic, it's undeniably thought-provoking, but too ambiguous to fully satisfy.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
"The Master" turns out to be more of a self-defeating whimper than the big, important bang it could have been.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
The film is interested in a cult of personality. Like Anderson's previous movie, "The Master" is a portrait of megalomania.
Steve Mirarchi - Boston Globe
It's a film of breathtaking cinematic romanticism and near-complete denial of conventional catharsis. You might wish it gave you more in terms of comfort food pleasure, but that's not Anderson's problem.
Karina Longworth - Village Voice
Phoenix gives the performance of his career.
Joe Neumaier - New York Daily News
As gifts to homo sapiens go, it's a rich one.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
The Master may go down as one of Paul Thomas Anderson's most compelling works for two simple reasons: Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Cary Darling - Dallas Morning News
Entrancing from first frame to last. The lights go down, they come up 137 minutes later, and you're left to ask yourself: What on earth did I just see?
Chris Vognar - Dallas Morning News
The Master is as confounding as it is magnificent.
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
Quite possibly the movie of the year, or the decade.
Glenn Kenny - MSN Movies
On reflection, and despite these cavils, we should bow to The Master, because it gives us so much to revere, starting with the image that opens the film and recurs right up to the end.
Anthony Lane - New Yorker
"The Master" is fabulously well-acted and crafted, but when I reach for it, my hand closes on air.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
Warts, wanderings, reiterations and all, this is a film destined to be processed in many different ways. And hallelujah to that.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
[A] challenging, psychologically fraught drama.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
The Master is a work that demands attention, and it satisfies on many levels - it is a film of intelligence and ambition, teeming with ideas, assembled with fearless artistry.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
Anderson's audacious films defy facile interpretation. Having seen it just once, I'm not sure I grasp it.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Both Phoenix and Hoffman are on fire within their characters. If only they'd had some place to go.
Tom Long - Detroit News
The film is not an epic. It's not a masterpiece. But it is an involving study of men searching, searching for answers, for belonging, for a foothold in life at a time when footholds were hard to find.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
137 minutes of Joaquin Phoenix's nose hairs is not my idea of appetizing.
Rex Reed - New York Observer
A sustained immersion in a series of hypnotic moods and longueurs, an imposing picture that thrillingly and sometimes maddeningly refuses to conform to expectations.
Justin Chang - Variety
It's a sharply written, unforgettably directed character study with brilliant performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams ...
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
Likely Oscar nominees both, Phoenix and Hoffman command the giant screen so completely it's hard to imagine anyone pulling it away from them.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
Beautifully done, but oppressive and claustrophobic.
Laremy Legel - Film.com
[Phoenix and Hoffman] suggest duelling Brandos.
Liam Lacey - Globe and Mail
This is an almost apocalyptic tale of thwarted emotion - love cut short - set in a pitiless land of delusions.
Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.com
I left the theater not entirely sure what The Master was about. I can't wait to get back and see it again.
Dana Stevens - Slate
It is the work of an artist; every shot is carefully composed.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
A bold, challenging, brilliantly acted drama that is a must for serious audiences.
Todd McCarthy - Hollywood Reporter
In his first film since the 2010 performance-art stunt of "I'm Still Here," Phoenix once again digs deep to mine his character's inner torment and comes up with a mix of haunting quirks and tics.
Christy Lemire - Associated Press
The problem with The Master is that it doesn't extend or expand Anderson's artistic journey.
Richard Corliss - TIME Magazine
I believe in the church of Paul Thomas Anderson. Fierce and ferociously funny, The Master is a great movie, the best of the year so far, and a new American classic.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
It's a film bristling with vivid moments and unbeatable acting, but its interest is not in tidy narrative satisfactions but rather the excesses and extremes of human behavior, the interplay of troubled souls desperate to find their footing.
Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times
It's a singular vision, and the movie haunts.
There is so much spark here, so much to absorb, that the effect defies any picking of nits and just makes one grateful.
Will Leitch - Deadspin
It's a mess; it's pretentious; it is thundery with dismay.
David Thomson - The New Republic
A perverted sausage party in which Anderson fully indulges his obsession with male genitalia.
Al Alexander - The Patriot Ledger
The film never lags. It is too gorgeous, too expertly acted, and above all, too well directed and written. Nearly devoid of exposition, "The Master" unfolds seamlessly and naturally.
Carla Meyer - Sacramento Bee
THE MASTER is challenging, perplexing, at times infuriating - and always thoughtful. Indelible. And always, always beautiful.
by itself, gives lie to the idea that Americans don't make great, nuanced, complicated films. It's sublime.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master is a challenging film, like most of his work. One that evokes a spellbinding performance out of Joaquin Phoenix.
Jeremy Lebens - We Got This Covered
Despite sumptuous cinematography and sublime acting, Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film ultimately feels a touch pointless.
Tom Glasson - Concrete Playground
There is not too much by way of extras in the new Blu-ray release of the under appreciated film, "The Master," but what is there is excellent.
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Admiravel ao permitir que o filme desenvolva seus temas e personagens ao seguir em direcoes frequentemente inesperadas, Anderson continua a demonstrar seu talento como cineasta tanto pela maturidade de seus temas quanto por seu preciosismo estetico.
Pablo Villaca - Cinema em Cena
Refusing to wrestle with the veracity or the real implications of The Cause, one begins to question what is underpinning the entire exercise, an ambiguity that, as with Kubrick, will require multiple viewings to unravel.
Andrew Simpson - Fan The Fire
In the end it may not have the emotional uplift the Academy or a popular mainstream audience craves, but make no mistake, this is an enthralling drama about a peculiarly American restlessness, and the striving for insight and grace.
Tom Charity - CNN.com
The at-times-impenetrable film will require multiple viewings to fully appreciate the multitude of themes and subtext.
Matthew Odam - Austin American-Statesman
Anderson has achieved his mid-century epic, and in its pure 65mm sumptuousness, the great American movie.
Harlan Jacobson - Boston Phoenix
THE MASTER is a brilliant film. THE MASTER is a confounding film. The Master is a terrible film. THE MASTER may talked about for the ages or forgotten in a few years. THE MASTER may be a masterpiece, THE MASTER may be empty of content...
Jason Gorber - Filmfest
THE MASTER is brilliant and/or confounding and/or terrible. It may be talked about for the ages or forgotten in a few years. It may be a masterpiece, and/or it may be empty of content masked by strong moments of acting prowess and visual flare.
With almost no narrative progression, this film is basically a character study in which the main characters remain little changed and enigmatic.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
The least accessible of Anderson's films, and the least enjoyable, but it's intelligent and original enough for him to remain a "must-see" director.
CJ Johnson - ABC Radio (Australia)
For me, it is a masterpiece, a visually stunning explosion of pure cinema, emotionally charged with a penetrating psychological punch. If you are bored by this film, to paraphrase the great Samuel Johnson, then you are bored with life.
Brian Henry Martin - UTV
This is ( ... ) for cinephiles. You are expected to love it, but it sometimes left me scratching my head.
Graham Young - Birmingham Mail
The Master is not short but, once you fill in the blanks, you find yourself constructing a meta-film that, if realised, would play for many, many more hours.
Donald Clarke - Irish Times
A dense, baffling, thoroughly original epic that seems to divide viewers on the simple question of what it's supposed to be about.
Ben Kenigsberg - Time Out Chicago
A bit of a sprawling, repetitive mess, a film that hints at greatness to be sure, but fails to come together in any coherent way ...
Alistair Harkness - Scotsman
Feral, hunched, his face like a clenched fist, Phoenix's Freddie is inarticulate and blocked where Hoffman's Dodd is extravagant, loquacious and smooth, although Dodd's sudden eruptions of anger suggests a possible kinship between them beneath the skin.
Jason Best - Movie Talk
Insightful and explosive examination of humanity
Cameron Williams - The Popcorn Junkie
The Master is drags you through the dark flux of a destructive man's clash with a man hell bent on manipulating his universe. It's powerful cinema in every regard.
Blake Howard - 2UE That Movie Show
The film draws much strength from the exceptional performances of both Phoenix and Hoffman and the riveting interplay between their characters.
Matthew Toomey - ABC Radio Brisbane
There are gaping chasms in the story and side stories that go nowhere. Yet the power of [Philip Seymour] Hoffman's performance is so hypnotic you forgive the film's faults just to revel in his all-consuming portrayal of a man possessed by his own beliefs.
Jim Schembri - 3AW
It certainly isn't for everyone, but those who like a challenge will find there is much to learn from The Master.
Alex Zane - Sun Online
The Master is a film that deserves to be celebrated and castigated in equal measure.
Leigh Paatsch - Herald Sun (Australia)
Marking Paul Thomas Anderson's most cryptic work to date, this brilliantly shot, superbly acted and powerfully challenging film warrants multiple viewings.
Tom Clift - FILMINK (Australia)
It drags a touch in the middle, and the final scene as epilogue - a Paul Thomas Anderson staple - is unduly perplexing, but the movie exerts an undeniable hold. It's difficult not to believe.
Craig Mathieson - The Sunday Age
It is an extraordinary film.
David Stratton - At the Movies (Australia)
More than impressive, it's disturbing, I felt quite shattered coming out of the screening whether because of the sheer artistry on display or whether because of the themes explored, I couldn't say.
Margaret Pomeranz - At the Movies (Australia)
Any similarities to L. Ron Hubbard are entirely intentional, but this isn't an incendiary attack on Scientology, more a spiritual Pygmalion with Phoenix a heretical Eliza Doolittle.
Jamie Dunn - The Skinny
This is more character study than story. Yet, it feels as shallow as The Cause itself, as maddeningly opaque as Dodd's motivations.
Michael Bonner - Uncut Magazine [UK]
The Master is a film about obedience and forming an identity through subservience.
Thomas Caldwell - Cinema Autopsy
The Master is just a film, and it satisfies, excites, entertains, and encourages debate just as the best ones should.
Simon Miraudo - Quickflix
After an hour, I was baffled. After two, I was bored stiff.
Rachel Cooke - Observer [UK]
Anderson operates within the only industry to give institutional cover to Hubbard's nefarious clique... The Master then, is a braver piece of work than it may appear; it's like a critique of clerical fascism smuggled out of wartime Vatican City.
Ed Whitfield - The Ooh Tray
The Master is not so much a class on cults and their leaders, nor a psychological drama; it seems more like a cinematic rumination about the search for direction and reason in 1950s America, wrapped in an odd sort of buddy movie
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
Two compelling performances fly high on the mast of Paul Thomas Anderson's film... The themes and nuances of the relationships are fraught with complexity and Anderson handles the material and sensitivities beautifully
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile
This jagged, meandering exploration of a Scientology-style movement is hauntingly mesmerising and packed with meaty performances.
Rich Cline - Contactmusic.com
The Master may not be to all tastes but it is a lyrical, spellbinding epic that tests the little grey cells in the way that few films do these days.
Allan Hunter - Daily Express
This is a glorious movie, an omnivorous, many-coloured satire on the chameleon-hued carnivores of our souls.
Nigel Andrews - Financial Times
Woozy, boozy, sleazy and dreamy, it's impossible not to be seduced by The Master - and, indeed, the master.
Ali Gray - TheShiznit.co.uk
This is a bold and ambitious drama about vilified outsiders who may just be kindred spirits.
Simon Reynolds - Digital Spy
Unlike its subject, The Master doesn't toss out easy answers, but it poses terrific questions.
Rob Daniel - Sky Movies
All hail the master.
Adam Woodward - Little White Lies
This is one film that doesn't have all or seemingly many of the answers, nor does it pretend to; Anderson's work is a snapshot of a time, one that develops in the viewer's mind long after a sitting.
Shaun Munro - What Culture
It's hard to shake a feeling that this is incoherence posing as depth; it's an indulgent movie buff's playpen which coasts on an unnerving, unbalanced mood of deliberately chilly vagueness.
An often brilliant '50s-throwback character drama that never feels nostalgic, with terrific central performances and a luminous, unforgettable visual beauty.
Damon Wise - Empire Magazine
From a director at the peak of his power, who is willing to take on serious topics and do it in a uniquely intelligent way.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
With potent performers and poetic visuals, Anderson has made the boldest American picture of the year.
Emma Dibdin - Total Film
The Master, while probably not Anderson's 'best' film, may be remembered as his most important and unarguably most ambitious.
Simon Foster - Screen-Space
Those expecting to be shocked and charmed and pushed around will get it; everyone else might leave feeling winded and a little confused. Good. It's probably what you need.
Patrick Kolan - Shotgun Critic
Felt most of all is the relationship and juxtaposition between these two men: master and disciple, civilised charlatan and tortured brute, humans one and all.
Matthew Pejkovic - Matt's Movie Reviews
Paul Thomas Anderson has finally hit bottom with this pretentious film and hopefully has nowhere to go but up.
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
Strange, compelling, and boldly uncommon.
Marty Mapes - Movie Habit
This may be less flamboyant than some of Anderson's previous films but when it comes to complex, confounding drama he stands assuredly amongst the masters.
Emma Simmonds - The List
in prompting us to retrace a complex nexus of fluid, unresolved themes, and to reconstruct from all this narrative flotsam and jetsam something relevant to who we are today in another era of instability, The Master makes wake-watchers of us all.
Anton Bitel - Eye for Film
An incongruously underwhelming effort from Paul Thomas Anderson...
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
Genuine walk-the-high-wire-without-a-net, swing-for-the-fences filmmaking. Bold, challenging, and unique.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
the film has a lot to say about the nature of religious belief, the personalities of radical followers and generally the functioning of cults
Mark R. Leeper - Mark Leeper's Reviews
The Master may seem like a movie of more questions than answers but the beauty of its composition and intensity of its central performances elevate it above most films.
Kofi Outlaw - ScreenRant
As with Lou Reed's notorious album of over-modulated feedback ("Metal Machine Music"), the audience is left to decide if the movie is some kind of bad joke, or an artistic project gone horribly astray.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
The movie doesn't quite measure up to the great performances...worth seeing, but not on par with Anderson's masterpieces.
Bob Grimm - Tucson Weekly
We talk about the medium of film being a true art form of expression, The Master, in cinema's purest 70mm beauty and wonder, is the reason why.
Sam Fragoso - Fan The Fire
The latest masterpiece from Paul Thomas Anderson
Kevin N. Laforest - Montreal Film Journal
It ain't exactly uplifting, and The Master will frustrate some with it's almost deliberate avoidance of resolution.
Pete Vonder Haar - Houston Press
a compelling, beautiful, troubling puzzle of a film
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
The performances by Hoffman and Phoenix are compelling, but the storyline surrounding their father-son dynamic is not.
Lori Hoffman - Atlantic City Weekly
An early contender for multiple Oscar nominations.
John Wirt - Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
The Master is less than the sum of its parts, but, oh, what parts they are.
Sam Adams - Philadelphia City Paper
If Anderson can ever figure out how to tell a story he might make a really great film. In the meantime he continues to make quite interesting ones.
Daniel M. Kimmel - New England Movies Weekly
A glorious work of technique... but not enough to answer the question that, crucially, goes not only unanswered but unasked: why are we bothering to watch it?
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
Anderson cunningly lets the viewer add the "sinister" here. We can ponder a group that sees value in collecting and guarding the secrets of its members, that seeks out celebrities, the passion for litigation as a means of battling those who question it.
Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master baits the audience. One may admire The Master for its scope, style, and maybe some of the acting, but its vision is myopic.
Tony Macklin - tonymacklin.net
... an attractively wrapped but thick and indigestible slab of baloney.
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
Great performances and visuals, but painfully slow and not much happens. Not Anderson's best work
Stephen Silver - EntertainmentTell
A difficult, interesting, odd, frustrating, and oftentimes majestic experience.
Nick Nunziata - CHUD
The actors' commitment to their roles is impressive, but it's tethered to a weightless, airless movie, a film so enamored of itself, the audience gets shut out.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
Anderson's style is clearly epic in scope, but his narrative approach is ambiguous, opaque and chillingly detached.
Jeff Meyers - Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
It's obviously a work of passion for its creator, who stages it with his typical flair and inventiveness. And yet it never quite persuades us to believe in its convictions, its viewpoints, even its sense of purpose.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
This character study is complex, difficult, and nuanced, and it posits a message that's wholly antithetical to the moviegoing experience: The core of who you are does not and cannot change.
Eric Melin - Scene-Stealers.com
Intelligent, chilly and fascinating, this uneven film didn't need 70 mm. It's a taut eye-to-eye war between Hoffman, magnificent as an egotist, and Phoenix, his needy follower
Caryn James - James on screenS
Audacious, insidious and serious, detailing how spiritual and religious systems can psycholgically seduce and subversively manipulate vulnerable minds.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
...the height of cinematic splendor.
Bill Gibron - PopMatters
Though subsequent viewing could change my mind, I find "The Master" to be a wonderfully measured and meditative work, and one of the most singularly fascinating films of 2012.
Jonathan Lack - We Got This Covered
"The Master" is intelligent, ambitious and cause for celebration - but not quite the masterpiece suggested by all the buzz.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - San Francisco Examiner
"Look for this movie in every single category come Oscar nominations."
Jeanne Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
""This is clearly not a film for everyone, but the magnetic performances of the actors is undeniable." "
David Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
With every beautiful image and questing character, it's a movie that demands close attention and rewards it.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
A bit long, but this character-driven story loosely based on L. Ron Hubbard and the -- dare we say -- invention of Scientology is riveting.
Gary Wolcott - Tri-City Herald
Even if I don't always understand them, these people fascinated, appalled and finally moved me, and Anderson has created a richly layered, believable world for them to struggle within.
Rob Thomas - Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Hoffman and Phoenix create such captivating characters and Anderson and his team's various touches paint with enough uncertainty that you simply can't take your eyes off what's presented. (Full Content Movie Review for Parents also available)
Jim Judy - Screen It!
Anderson's talky and willfully opaque film is far easier to appreciate -- namely for its craftsmanship and performances -- than it is to enjoy.
Mike Scott - Times-Picayune
Anderson, god love him, seems determined to make the "Great American Film." "The Master" isn't it, but you come away from it with the sense that may be on the right path.
Shawn Levy - Oregonian
Get ready for the first big, vaunted, art house movie heavily lauded as a masterpiece and Oscar contender that will leave you wondering what all the hype was about.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
It's a surprisingly compassionate look at two people: A lost sheep and his shepherd.
Rafer Guzman - Newsday
Anderson does not judge his monstrous characters. He finds sympathy for them even at the heights of their delusion.
Jeffrey Overstreet - Looking Closer
Phoenix is back in a behemothic way with his magnum opus in The Master, a blindingly brilliant character study from cinema's most prodigiously skilled auteur, Paul Thomas Anderson.
Erick Weber - NECN
Calm down, people. The Master is a perfectly fine movie... But, no pun intended, this isn't a religious experience.
Kevin Carr - 7M Pictures
'The Master' more or less divides the increasingly wealthy, deranged and alcoholic Daniel Day-Lewis character from 'There Will Be Blood' into two entities: The charismatic, intellectual Dodd and the primitive, emotional Freddie.
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Where There Will Be Blood transmuted sullen earth into flame and launched it violently skyward, The Master is, as its opening shot advertises, a more fluid undertaking, a story of ebb and flow.
Christopher Orr - The Atlantic
The Master begs for a reorientation of the viewer, perhaps requiring more than one viewing...there's nothing easy or conventional about this account of a doomed search for external meaning, doubling as a meditative tone poem on human frailty.
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
This is not a film; it's a mesmerizing experience. Joaquin Phoenix reaches an entirely different level of greatness with his performance, the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, and the score is downright incredible.
Chris Sawin - Examiner.com
The Master studies its characters with such mystique, tragedy and humor that there's not a moment that isn't enthralling.
Jeremy Mathews - Paste Magazine
Now he's back with The Master and while the movie doesn't quite live up to Anderson's Odin-like standards, it still stands out as one of the most provocative and temperamental films of the year.
Mathew DeKinder - Suburban Journals of St. Louis
I knew The Master would be beautiful, but I was pleasantly surprised by all the fart jokes and boobs.
Vincent Mancini - FilmDrunk
This is dark and thoughtful -- albeit cold -- material, with the best acting we've seen this year.
Jim Slotek - Jam! Movies
You might expect an epic, but in fact The Master is smaller. It's a meditation rather than a grand statement from one of our very best filmmakers.
Perry Seibert - TV Guide's Movie Guide
The eternal struggle between the satyr and the mystic in human nature is joined.
James Verniere - Boston Herald
Anderson tells this story slowly, inexorably, with a sense of control I've never felt from him before.
Lawrence Toppman - Charlotte Observer
The Master is nothing short of an alternate history to the bobby-socked, Panglossed Fifties, a bracing antidote to our rose-colored pictures of prosperity and suburban domesticity.
Kimberley Jones - Austin Chronicle
For film fans who have lost faith in the transportive power of cinema, "The Master" will make you a believer.
Joe Williams - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The Master feels like few movies have, except the director's own and a few of Stanley Kubrick's, languid as a trance and mesmerizing in its unpredictability.
Steve Persall - Tampa Bay Times
There are many reasons to see The Master, but if nothing else, see it for the two killer performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Clint O'Connor - Cleveland Plain Dealer
Strange but not inaccessible, elusive but not untraceable, complex but always rewarding.
Matt Pais - RedEye
There seems to be a large gap in the third act of either material deleted to shorten the film or Anderson simply never worked it out. But don't get me wrong, I'd certainly be interested in seeing The Master 2: Ghost Protocol or Look Who's Master Now.
Adam Lippe - Examiner.com
A provocative drama, but also a frustrating one. Individual moments spark to life, while the rest of it is akin to a book that's scarcely been read beyond the synopsis on the flap.
A metaphor about post-WWII America, overwhelmed by its own success, audacious, overconfident, careless, struggling between head and heart, past and future, body and soul.
Nell Minow - Beliefnet
A film that starts off seeming like the best of 2012 becomes a chore to sit through, and I suspect that few, even among this film's enthusiasts, will come to the end of the movie wishing there were more.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
Obviously a masterly piece of filmmaking....Even a flawed Anderson film is more interesting than most directors' unequivocal triumphs.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
This portrait of 1950s America is like none you've ever seen, and it's unsettling - but the minute it was over, I wanted to watch it again.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
The filmmaking here is exquisite, not only in its ability to engross us in the manipulations of one man administered on the volatility of another, but in its ability to completely immerse us in another time...
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
America is fertile land for crackpot spirituality, and what "The Master" wants to know is why, and why now.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
[Phoenix's] mercurial performance adds another layer of mystery to a film thick with complexity but whose meaning is up for grabs.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
It's a film to admire, not a film to love, but that's a worthwhile thing for a movie to be, especially when so few movies have any kind of ambition at all.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
"The Master" merely ends up being a reminder that performances can take a film pretty far, but they can't make up for poor writing.
Jeff Beck - Examiner.com
The creative elements are extraordinary as usual, yet there's a palpable restraint to the material that keeps it from burrowing under the skin. The Master fumbles around in the dark.
Brian Orndorf - Blu-ray.com
It fits with [Anderson's] previous acclaimed efforts "Boogie Nights" and "There Will Be Blood" as an epic account of a shady subculture, rich in period detail and memorable performances.
Jon Niccum - Kansas City Star
Whatever you're told this movie is about, remember it's about Phoenix's face first.
Josh Larsen - LarsenOnFilm
Ultimately, it's a movie about the right brain, the left brain and all the toxins of life that swim between them.
Justin Strout - Orlando Weekly
The first time watching is like breezing past a piece of beautiful art, being stunned, uncertain and intrigued by it. The second time can only encourage more interpretation, reflection and understanding.
Randy Myers - San Jose Mercury News
Homoerotic obsession with a very dangerous man. Hoffman plays a seductive, likeable Master. I remember the Lifespring cult in the 80s.
Victoria Alexander - Film Festival Today
Distinguished by potent if often flamboyant performances. The screenplay, however, is a murky mash-up of religious expose, a critique of post-World War II American mores, and an unrequited love story (possibly two unrequited love stories).
Fr. Chris Carpenter - Movie Dearest
The ghost of There Will Be Blood lingers in the background, except this time around there are two antisocial megalomaniacs descending into their own insular, myopic forms of crazy.
Kent Turner - Film-Forward.com
There's a distinct thrill in watching in watching a movie that's confident enough in the material its presenting that it doesn't constantly feel the need to stop and explain itself.
Ethan Alter - Television Without Pity
An imperfect, demanding yet extraordinary slice of American history, delivers not just on the promise, but on our hopes for it, too.
Joanna Langfield - The Movie Minute
Paul Thomas Anderson is obviously at the height of his powers right now, and he has crafted a character piece that is enthralling and engulfing.
What seems revelatory in the moment is often obvious in retrospect.
Michael Nordine - L.A. Weekly
A fascinating drama about the mysterious relationship between a cult leader and a wayward and violent disciple.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
As Hoffman's Master strives to impress w/eloquent language, fine suits and psychic parlor tricks, serving as cerebral misdirection, so too does Anderson, similarly pulling elaborate wool over our eyes. Quoting Ms. Stein: There is no there there.
Kimberly Gadette - Doddle
For a movie with not a lot of plot, or much of a point, The Master is nevertheless mesmerizing, especially in its first half.
Kurt Loder - Reason Online
Intense, evocative drama examines faith, compulsion.
S. Jhoanna Robledo - Common Sense Media
The Master may not be filled with scenic vistas or sweeping action, but it's nothing less than jaw-dropping.
Matt Patches - Hollywood.com
Featuring superb performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, it's a complex and cerebral study of spirituality, sociology, loyalty, and perhaps most importantly, persuasion.
Todd Jorgenson - Cinemalogue.com
Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master is a disturbing experience in ways that matter.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
The Master flirts with greatness and has much to admire, including exceptional performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Leonard Maltin - Leonard Maltin's Picks
Hoffman really brings this Lannister Dodd character to life. He's a magnet, the kind of guy who walks into a room full of 100 people and he instantly gets everyone's attention. As always though, P.T. Anderson is the star.
Kristian Harloff - Schmoes Know
The key to this movie, as with any PT Anderson film, is that the story relies heavily on performances and my word do we get a lot of great ones here. Obviously the two leads, Hoffman and Phoenix, could be looking at earning a little golden guy.
Mark Ellis - Schmoes Know
...the meat of this film is the nature of a relationship between two people, and you're free to go as deep, or not, into that as you wish.
Luke Y. Thompson - Nerdist
a perfect circle of visceral and philosophical energies which makes The Master a remarkable, ferocious experience, not just one of the best films of the year, but a singular achievement that doesn't just earn its divisiveness but outright demands it.
Todd Gilchrist - Celebuzz
In less accomplished cinematic hands, this level of ambiguity can often be dismissed as a filmmaker just not knowing what to say, or at least not willing to make choices...
Mark Bell - Film Threat
"Memories, photographs and 70MM film all contribute to a "timeless" classic. Best film of the year? Please. The Master is out to conquer so much more.
Radheyan Simonpillai - AskMen.com
At once explosive and ramshackle, unpredictable and expertly modulated, it's a magnetic performance [by Phoenix].
Nick Schager - Lessons of Darkness
A character study elevated to devastating heights by two, towering central performances from Joaquin Phoenix as the student and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the eponymous master.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
This movie defies the usual fresh-or-rotten dichotomy. It's an awesome feat of filmmaking, but so opaque that it keeps you at a remove and proves hard to sit through.
Robert Levin - amNewYork
The Master is built around two towering, career-high feats of acting.
Alison Willmore - Movieline
The Master will burrow its way into your mind, heart and soul, and simmer there long after you leave the theater.
Ella Taylor - NPR
It raises some excellent questions, features two of the best performances of the year and occasionally feels as inscrutable as life itself.
William Bibbiani - CraveOnline
Chilling, hypnotic and strikingly beautiful. Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffmann are electrifying, like two expert magicians at the top of their game.
Justin Craig - FoxNews.com
It's a feisty, contentious, deliberately misshapen film, designed to challenge and frustrate audiences looking for a clean resolution. Just because it's over doesn't mean it's settled.
Scott Tobias - AV Club
Even in its most perplexing moments, it's always a delight to watch thanks to the astonishing performances and the gorgeous 70mm imagery.
Matt Singer - ScreenCrush
...shot like a dream and has acting pyrotechnics to spare, but lacks some of the director's characteristically thunderous panache.
Chris Barsanti - Film Journal International
A compelling piece of work, PT Anderson is truly a modern master.
Chris Bumbray - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
The Master is unforgettable, but like the mercurial men at its center, the harder you try to read into it, the more it slips away into the distance.
Katey Rich - CinemaBlend.com
It's an actor's showcase that's impeccably shot and beautifully projected on 70mm. It's a film student's dream, an audience's challenge, and a worthy addition to PTA's formidable canon on the flaws of mankind.
Sean O'Connell - Movies.com
Ponderous and demanding, Paul Thomas Anderson's latest slows to a rattlesnake-swallowing-a-mouse lurch, a pace that makes There Will Be Blood feel like Boogie Nights.
Joshua Rothkopf - Time Out
This is film-making to be admired and enthralled by, rather than being engaged on an emotional level.
Ian Gilchrist - HeyUGuys
A hollow epic that searches for a big bang yet ends in a whimper.
Kirk Honeycutt - honeycuttshollywood.com
Gorgeous to look at and an absolute feast of strong and interesting acting.
Linda Holmes - NPR
The Master is Paul Thomas Anderson with the edges sanded off, the best bits shorn down to nubs.
Calum Marsh - Slant Magazine
Anderson is a romantic who has earned his nihilism. He clarifies nothing, but leaves us brooding on our own confusion.
You're fully conscious of a determined artistic vision - but that vision is also determinedly oblique at best, opaque at worst.
Marshall Fine - Hollywood & Fine
'The Master,' like Lancaster Dodd himself, offers up lots of talk and lots of sound and fury, but no answers, and it is one of the most frustrating experiences of the year.
Drew McWeeny - HitFix
In terms of Oscar promise, The Master is the one to watch for this year, with two unparalleled performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix.
Kate Muir - Times [UK]
It is a strikingly well made film that pulls no creative punches.
Mark Adams - Screen International
It shows Anderson to be one of the most challenging film-makers in America, if not the world.
Derek Malcolm - This is London
'The Master' is another tale of warped power and fanatical delusions, and it sees Anderson on captivating form as a director who is able to surprise and impress with scene after scene.
Dave Calhoun - Time Out
It makes words like 'bold' and 'extraordinary' seem utterly inadequate.
Robbie Collin - Daily Telegraph
It is a movie that may alienate and exasperate some, but its audacity, its formal daring and Joaquin Phoenix's performance, make it simply unmissable.
It's in the moments when these two actors fight, laugh, commune or defy each other that the film is most vital and out of control
Sara Maria Vizcarrondo - Boxoffice Magazine
The film is not as dramatically compelling or cohesive as the 2007 Blood, but it's provocative in ideas and supremely acted by Phoenix and Hoffman (Oscar caliber turns), reaffirming Anderson's status as one of the boldest directors today.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Offers catnip for the senses and succour for the soul, riffing lightly off the life of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard to conjure up a film that is both expansive and intimate, confident and self-questioning.
This is probably PTA's least accessible movie for general audiences. But it is also his most mature work as a filmmaker.
David Poland - Movie City News
The recurring theme in my many thoughts and conversations about one of the most remarkable film-going events of my life has been this - Paul Thomas Anderson may be the most ambitious filmmaker working today.
Brian Tallerico - HollywoodChicago.com