Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film stars a stunning Philip Seymour Hoffman as a 1950s cult leader who offers followers therapy to cure their demons; the film focuses on his intense relationship with a shellshocked disciple, played by an equally impressive Joaquin Phoenix. Critics are raving:
- AO Scott calls The Master "imposing, confounding and altogether amazing" in the New York Times. It's "a movie about the lure and folly of greatness that comes as close as anything I’ve seen recently to being a great movie," and Hoffman has "the flair and precision of a great concert pianist."
- In Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gushes that the movie "restores your faith in film as an art form"; Anderson is "the foremost filmmaking talent of his generation." "Fierce and ferociously funny, The Master is a great movie, the best of the year so far, and a new American classic."
- Indeed, it's "the season’s first Oscar contender," notes Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News. Hoffman is "perfect to the bone," and "Phoenix gives the performance of his career."
- In USA Today, Claudia Puig agrees that the film is "mesmerizing and massively ambitious"; it's "enthralling, ponderous and elusive in equal parts." But it sometimes gets ahead of itself: "The story can leave viewers at sea, floundering to give meaning to what they are watching."