Rules it exemplified:
- The Past is a Foreign Country, So Learn the Language: My favorite thing about The Master was that I wasn't thinking at all about screenwriting or other movies as I watched it. Instead, I was overwhelmed by memories of my two grandfathers. Despite the fact that they were extremely different men, Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell was a fascinating combination of the two at their most troubled. I felt like Phoenix must have known them personally to capture them so well. PTA and his actors captured the lost language of the ‘50s with uncanny precision.
- Every Hero Must be Volatile: Overall, I loved how the movie, thanks to Phoenix and Hoffman's unbridled, unfiltered performances, seemed to hum with volatility in every scene. I was squirming in my seat the whole time, fearing the next inevitable combustion of matter and anti-matter.
- Show Us a Relationship We Haven’t Seen Before: The movie did what I never thought it could do: make me sympathetic to Scientology, by putting it in its proper historical context of the PTSD-wracked ‘50s and showing that, for thoroughly-damaged individuals like Freddie, who were impervious to conventional psychotherapy, only direct confrontation by a fellow nutjob provided any hope of self-help. The violently symbiotic relationship that the two form is utterly believable to me and yet unlike anything I’ve seen onscreen. I debated in my head for days whether or not the positive results (for Freddie) justified Hoffman’s megalomania.