The Master by Paul Thomas Anderson (USA, 2012, 144 min.). 35mm.

This gorgeously shot drama follows a shiftless veteran named Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) who befriends Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his wife (Amy Adams), the founders of a religious movement similar to Scientology. Dodd attempts to cure Freddie of his animalistic impulses with new age mysticism and psychoanalysis, resulting in a struggle between Freddie’s id and Dodd’s ego that can only have one victor. Laura Dern plays Helen Sullivan, a devout follower of Dodd’s who dares to question the logic of his teachings. Though it’s a small part, the paradoxical character (a cultist who thinks for herself) demonstrates Dern’s gravitation toward multifaceted or ambivalent roles.

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