Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012


Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) finds someone who listens to him.


Freddie is a US Navy veteran who suffers from PTSD. He also drinks a lot too much. He meets with Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour-Hoffman) and his wife Peggy (Amy Adams) as they sail to the East Coast. Lancaster Dodd is the leader of a cult named the Cause, which claims to help people travel through time so they can find themselves thanks to a hypnotic method called processing.

Thankfully we are, all of us, working at breakneck speeds, in the unison towards capturing the mind’s fatal flaws and correcting it back to its inherent state of perfect.

At first, Freddie is impressed by the charismatic guru. Then he slowly loses respect for a man who turns out to be a complete fraud. They finally say goodbye in London where Dodd lives in exile.

If you figure a way to live without serving a master, any master, then let the rest of us know, will you? For you’d be the first person in the history of the world.


The Master is about being under influence.

Freddie is a soldier who’s coming back home where no one is waiting for him. He represents a part of America that is left alone. He’s being forgotten by the administration, neglected by the doctors, disrespected by his customers. He makes his coworkers sick. Freddie is running away. He is exposed to impostors, such as Ron L. Hubbard. Dodd is a phoney. He is totally cryptic but he cares for Freddie. He’s the only one who offers Freddie a safe place.

Who likes you except for me?

The two men are very similar. In return for his attention, Freddie is going to be his guinea pig and protégé but also his devoted violent lieutenant. Freddie gives a bit of fresh air and distraction to the founder of the Cause, not to mention a lot of alcohol. He’s a true source of inspiration.

Free winds and no tyranny for you, Freddie, sailor of the seas. You pay no rent, free to go where you please.

They didn’t really meet by accident, those two men are very similar. They are drifting, sailing, riding a motorbike in the desert, looking for their position in this world.

I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist and a theoretical philosopher. But above all, I am a man, a hopelessly inquisitive man, just like you.

They always try to escape as they go through life: Freddie runs away or sneaks in. Dodd does the same by hiding behind long speeches that don’t make sense. What are they running away from?

The two are in fact slaves to women. Dodd lets himself become the complete prisoner of Peggy. She castrates him.

Stick it back to its pants!

She’s the one who decides for everything. She dictates. He takes notes.

The only way to defend ourselves is to attack. If we don’t do that we will lose every battle that we are engaged in.

Peggy is the real guru.

This is something you do for a billion years or not at all. This isn’t fashion.

Freddie on the other hand is haunted by the ghost of a woman: his mum abandoned him. He had sex with a woman he shouldn’t have (his auntie). Dodd’s daughter (Ambyr Childers) teases him, even though she is married. Young Doris (Madisen Beaty) has not waited for his return. Freddie is being tortured. He will always be the prisoner of this medusa on the sand.

When Freddie and Dodd’s roads separate, Dodd is desperate.

If you figure a way to live without serving a master, any master, let the rest of us know will you? For you’d be the first in the history of the world.

Women won, exactly like Dodd tells his daughter who races to the house. They are faster, more resilient. They are the real masters.

What are the reasons for joining a cult? What are cult members running away from? Who’s pulling the strings?


This publication reflects the views only of the author.

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