There's not much I can say about Paul Thomas Anderson's new film The Master. Not to sound dismissive; in fact, I think it may be a genuinely great, profound work. Still, it's so deeply personal--for Anderson, and for the viewer--that to try to think of something to say, to cast it into words...well, it feels inadequate and somehow disrespectful.
Others, of course, may disagree. :Aren't you proud of me?" the middle-aged lady in the back row asked her companion literally the second the credits began to roll, her voice so loud the whole auditorium couldn't help but hear. "I actually managed to stay awake through that stupid thing." After a moment of silence, and apparently in case her opinion hadn't been made properly known, she continued: "What the hell was that even about?"
The two of them had arrived about ten minutes into the movie, but considering the parade of trailers ahead of time, close to a half hour after the posted start time. More accurately, the quieter of the two arrived ten minutes in. His loud-mouthed companion showed up a few minutes after that, large drink and popcorn in hand, which she proceeded to slurp and munch for some time afterward.
I realize my description of the distaff member of the duo might be a bit cruel, and might make me seem somewhat snobbish. But honestly, her behavior invited ridicule. As they worked their way down the aisle after the show, she continued her tirade, asking a complete stranger, "Do you even know what that was about?"
An odd question to ask, since The Master has more on its mind than almost any American film this year. But an odd question, too, because even a rough description of the plot--what it's "about"--already reveals that it's not going to be a popcorn-munchin' movie. Google's plot description reads thusly: "A psychologically troubled drifter returns from the war and meets the charismatic leader of a new religion."
Just from that, and from the trailers, which do a fairly good job of representing its elliptical style, I can't help but wonder why this person even showed up for this particular movie. It wasn't for her, which is fine, but even a cursory amount of research would have told her that ahead of time. I'm not saying she's an idiot because she didn't like it.
I'm saying she's an idiot for going to a movie she clearly knew nothing about, then expecting everyone else to agree with her snap judgement.