Paul Thomas Anderson is a director who seems to just have a knack for drawing out incredible game changing performances from his actors. He did it with Tom Cruise in Magnolia – easily the finest of Cruise’s career in my opinion – and especially in There Will Be Blood with Daniel Day Lewis, whose portrayal of insanely driven oil-magnate Daniel Plainview, I consider to be the best singular performance by an actor in the last two decades, if not more.
And now with his latest, The Master, he’s showcasing Joaquin Phoenix’s own special brand of crazy.
The first teaser trailer doesn’t really give you a true grasp of the story of the film, which – despite The Weintstein Company’s current tip-toeing around it- is essentially about Scientology. Specifically how a “lost soul”, Phoenix’s Freddie, is enraptured by a charismatic cult leader, Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd, and becomes his right hand man, only to begin doubting the “religion” they have created.
Based on the fact that Scientolgists have been very critical about how their religion has been represented in film and media in the past, this is certainly going to cause some controversy. Even more so, due to the fact that Tom Cruise, who is a close friend of Anderson (see above for career changing film reference), is one of the most high profile
members of the cult practitioners of this religion.
TheWrap is reporting that “in the hopes of heading off a conflict with the group.”, Anderson actually screened the film personally for Cruise, who apparently “had issues” with some of the aspects of the story. The film will now be screened to more celebrity scientologists, such as John Travolta. Whom I believe already made a 100% factual documentary about the religion, titled Battlefield Earth. Or at least that’s what I hear, since I couldn’t get myself to finish sitting through a movie with Travolta as a giant alien rastafarian with face jewelry.
Set in America in the years following World War II, a charismatic intellectual (Philip Seymour Hoffman) launches a faith-based organization and taps a young drifter (Joaquin Phoenix) as his right-hand man. But as the faith begins to gain a fervent following, the onetime vagabond finds himself questioning the belief system he has embraced, and his mentor.
Last Updated: May 23, 2012