Joaquin Phoenix is no stranger to being called strange. His work is often difficult to describe. One of the harder movies to recommend to another person from his catalog is definitely The Master. This psychological drama has been well-received by critics and audiences. It’s one of those movies where people always come away with something different. Some evidence to that is this Vulture piece that suggests five interpretations of the film. While everyone expiernces The Master differently, they overwhelmingly come away with positive remarks on having seen the film. Now, The Master is available on Netflix for everyone to add their own thoughts on this strange tale to the pot.
We know that Joaquin Phoenix plays a war veteran. That his character is having a difficult time in his own mind. That he doesn’t seem to be a chatty fellow. And that he is readjusting to civilian life. We also know that he meets a charismatic leader who he seems ready to follow and trust in this moment where he is lost. It also seems like his character is struggling with the concept of what is and isn’t real. We can pick up a lot of this information from the trailer below.
As for what the story is about and what is actually happening? It’s a little unclear. You don’t come away from the trailer feeling like you can explain the idea to anyone else. It seems like it must have been a terrible movie to market. Still, this movie stars Joaquin Phoenix along with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. In a small role, you’ll also catch sight of Rami Malek. This is a stellar cast. And the movie is from writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson. Anderson is responsible for movies like Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, and Hard Eight.
As mentioned above, critics loved it. Audience scores are also great. Rotten Tomatoes has The Master at 84% and IMDb has given the movie a 7.2 rating. The New Yorker called it astonishing. Common Sense Media said it was masterful. Many reviews commented specifically on the performances of Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, saying they were impressive, even for such great actors.
While critics loved it, as mentioned above, it’s hard to explain what this movie is about, even after you’ve seen it. That makes marketing The Master no easy task, and it seems to be one they failed at. The Master earned $28 million worldwide at the box office. The budget for this movie was $42 million. While Joaquin Phoenix may have been great in this 2012 film, not enough people went to the movie theaters to actually see it.
For Joaquin Phoenix, this odd little movie came two years after I’m Still Here, with nothing in between. I’m Still Here was that movie about Joaquin Phoenix transitioning from being an actor to becoming a rapper. It was during a confusing period where people didn’t really know what to think of his work or him. That may have meant he held a little less star power draw, which may not have helped at the box office.
These days, the actor is on top again. Joaquin Phoenix was in the billion-dollar box office and critical hit, Joker. This is a far-cry from The Master, but shows what kind of range the actor has always had as a talent in the industry, even if he is a bit hard to pin down. One of his big earlier hits included Gladiator, where he played Commodus. Then, in 2005, he played the legendary Johnny Cash opposite Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line. He was nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars for Gladiator, Walk the Line, and The Master. He won when he was finally nominated for Joker.
These days, it’s hard to know what Joaquin Phoenix is up to. Everyone wants to know if he will be in Joker 2. Director Todd Philips has been talking to Phoenix about the possibility since the early days of filming the first movie. They’ve brainstormed ideas. However, both have said that they felt the movie was complete with the first installment. They visualize it as a standalone, even if the money is there for a sequel. Philips has said he will not move forward on a Joker 2 if Phoenix isn’t on board, so if it ever does happen, it should include the actor.
Beyond that, Joaquin Phoenix says he is happy with his life. He takes on roles as they call to him and he feels inspired to do so. We’ll have to wait for someone to offer him a script he can’t turn down before we see him again. Probably in something difficult to describe to other people, but beloved by critics. If you’re ready to see one of those, you can check out his performance in The Master risk free on Netflix right now.