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Despite its significant successes, “The Master” is not a film about big moments. It won’t appease those looking for a cathartic narrative or relatable characters. It’s difficult to digest in one sitting and one’s opinion of it is likely to change from viewing to viewing. The pacing is tight but the narrative is formless, making it a formidable challenge for less experienced moviegoers.

Critical reaction should range from “good” to “great,” and after one viewing, I come down in the middle – it’s not quite as great as the sum of its parts. But, Paul Thomas Anderson’s vision is unflinching – the film will provoke endless discussion and interpretation – and Joaquin Phoenix is a revelation. His performance alone makes “The Master” a must-see for discriminating audiences.

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2 out of ★★★★★ (Excellent)

-J. Olson

Full review: The Master

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