"In The Master, the American past of the late Forties and early Fifties is a very, very foreign country, rendered doubly strange from the perspective of the early 21st century and its nervous obsession with right now. Who are these people? Who is this grandiose, folksy, impetuous, self-appointed sage named Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman)? Who are these wealthy people who subsidize him, invite him into their homes and onto their yachts, and listen to him with such rapt attention? And why is Dodd watching so closely over a busted wreck like Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix)?"