My wife and I went to see this movie last night. Here is Roger Ebert's review. My own review is not so charitable. Leaving this movie we had one question. Why did we waste two plus hours of our lives on this film? Paul Thomas Anderson is a very good director. I thoroughly enjoyed Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, but his latest offering is just no good. Several reviews have described the movie as opaque or oblique. One review breathlessly and gleefully describes the movie as "defying understanding" as if that's a good thing. Look, I like symbolism as much as the next guy and I get allegory when it is done well. This movie however, is a cryptic journey to nowhere and with a crappy ending to boot. My own word for this film would be vacuous.
Sure, Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman do a very good job acting their roles, the former as a hard drinking, debauched and tormented lout and the latter as a glib, paternalistic, rotund yet dapper Svengali-like character supposedly inspired by L. Ron Hubbard. Trust me, their acting is about the only good thing in this movie and it is nowhere near enough to carry the day. The film is long, boring and senseless. If you have someone you don't like or that has recently been bothering you, recommend The Master to them. You will be glad you did.