Gotta Serve Somebody: Finding Purpose in ‘The Master’

Image 1: Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

The sky in much of P.T. Anderson’s The Master hovers at a shade of wiped gray-white, the blue appearing in the form of snips of a heaving riptide and dimly lit interior spaces. It relays a confusion as to what is up and what is down, inside and out, truth or fiction, good or bad. That gives us some insight into the relationship between the film’s dictating figure, the Master himself, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman, perhaps taking a page out of Orson Welles’s Charles Foster Kane here), and its troubled disciple, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix, truly, and frighteningly, brilliant). It also offers a lens into unpacking writer/director Anderson’s complex portrayal of the seductions of blind, misled faith in exchange for devoted companionship. Continue reading “Gotta Serve Somebody: Finding Purpose in ‘The Master’” »