Paul Thomas Anders directs this movie, which is kind of like the origin of Scientology, mixed with a period drama.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman is the cult leader, Amy Adams is his domineering wife and Joaquin Phoenix plays one of the most messed up characters ever.

The plot is straight forward, but only if viewed at a distance after seeing the entire movie.  Each event is full of unnecessary murkiness that makes it hard to follow.  Some scenes appear in the trailer that are not in the movie, but since the events in the movie just sort of ambles, it’s not really an issue.  Joaquin is Freddie, a severely traumatized alcoholic, fresh from World War 2.  His life unravels and he finds himself a stowaway on a party boat.  The party turns out to be a cult party for something called “The Cause”, Phillip Seymour Hoffman character’s group.  Hoffman’s character tries to help Freddie, but soon you have to wonder who really needs the help.

Thomas has a slow paced style of directing and a roundabout way of telling a story.  The movie challenges you to dissect it.  But it also basks in the period, making it feel a little bit like a play.  The performances are powerful and Joaquin definitely deserves a nod at an Oscar for this one.  His performance is a little unnerving.  This is a movie for people who like more challenging art.  In fact, it feels more like a performance piece than a movie at times.  But from an entertainment perspective, it’s not all that engrossing.  When I find myself confused or squirming in my chair, it’s not nuance, it’s lack on interesting things going on on the screen.

I give The Master 7 out of 10 keggers.  It’s really more of a rental and although the events aren’t that spectacular, the performances are pretty amazing.