You have no idea how envious I am of salesmen. These people know how to make someone feel good, letting themselves into their world, while the sales people give their five minute spiel on why their product is great. I may be a film critic, but I’m not that talented at selling something on the spot. That’s what happens when I don’t have a summer job in high school. While guys like me were at the movie theaters, some of my friends were working at the Promenade Mall in Temecula, learning how persuade people. We encounter salesmen all the time and it’s up to us too see whether or not we like this person and if their ideas are something we need.
Religion is something that is constantly thrown at our faces. I’m not saying anything about religion, but people are always looking for something that explains life itself. Life is mysterious and I would like to believe in something greater then science. Speaking of which, the science in Scientology is being examined today in the philosophical exploration story, The Master. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, whose also known for Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, and There Will be Blood, I knew I was coming in for something very interesting. Paul Thomas Anderson builds fantastic imagery around stories that explore mans darkest ideas and emotions.
Starting at the end of World War II, we come across Navy veteran, Freddie Quell (played by Joaquin Phoenix). Unlike most movies that show most war veterans a happy ending after times in Germany and Japan, Freddie is actually suffering from post-traumatic stress and is having a hard time adjusting to the new America after getting fired as a department store photographer. He’s also a home brewer and an alcoholic who makes his own drinks. His drunkenness causes him to stumble onto a yacht that will sail him on a spiritual journey.
He wakes up finding that the people on board are celebrating a wedding and a vacation. The boat belongs to a theoretical doctor, Lancaster Dodd (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman). He is starting a new philosophical movement called The Cause. He takes a liking to Freddie when he tastes one of his homemade drinks. After a little fun and celebration, Lancaster exposes him a ritual called Processing that involves deep questioning into his past. Believing he has found a place where he can find answers, Freddie joins along the movement in order to help spread The Cause and it’s beliefs on science and philosophy.
The Master reminded me of Dumbo. Though Freddie does have deep character, the movie is mostly about The Cause. He’s the observer of the action, as Dumbo was to the circus. This movie is more of a therapy session then a circus. I found this movie a little slow as some of the scenes often play on too long on their human traits. But the rest actually has some great story about how the answers can provide a lot of comfort, even if we don’t agree with the questions.
I’ll give this four containers of paint thinner out of five. The Master is an interesting allegory on Scientology. I guess you could say I was sold (not the religion, the movie), even if some others won’t believe it.