The Master (2012)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Freddie, a volatile, heavy-drinking veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, finds some semblance of a family when he stumbles onto the ship of Lancaster Dodd, the charismatic leader of a new "religion" he forms after World War II.

By recasting Peggy as the architect of the Cause, a pseudo-scientific sect modeled unsubtly after Scientology, Anderson makes it clear that his real subject is male weakness, concealed beneath layers of balls-out bravado.

Adam Nayman (The Ringer)


[The central] codependent relationship, an ongoing barter of authenticity and phoniness, reflects the dynamic at the heart of Scientology as a new American religion of self-creation; but it also obliquely suggests another postwar cult that took Hollywood by storm, that of “Method acting” as taught by Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler and Sanford Meisner. […] A study in contrasts, these men are also more alike than they know—a point that Anderson underlines in a scene where they face off in neighboring jail cells, reduced to a state of animalistic barking. It’s a memorable scene, and indeed Anderson excels at making standout scenes—though they often have the feel of compartmentalized units, isolated from any larger construction.

Nick Pinkerton (The Point Mag)