Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says Iffy for 16+
Intense, evocative drama examines faith, compulsion.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Master -- a piercing drama from the director of There Will Be Blood about a charismatic leader and his wayward follower that has drawn comparisons to the story of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard -- may be disquieting for younger teens. Many agonizing scenes depict an alcoholic making his own brand of near-poisonous hooch and drinking it, as well as simmering with rage and beating people up, masturbating (genitals aren't shown), having sex (breasts are visible), and more. There's also full-frontal female nudity at a party, period-accurate smoking, and strong language, including "s--t" and "f--k."
- Families can talk about the movie's messages. Is it saying anything about faith and belief? If so, what? Who do you think it's meant to appeal to?
- Is the Cause a cult? If yes, why do you think so? What separates a cult from a more mainstream religion?
- Why do you think Freddie could find Lancaster Dodd's brand of religion appealing? What is it about?
The good stuff
Positive messages: The relationship between a master and his acolyte is complicated, bringing up more questions than answers.
Positive role models: Lancaster Dodd appears to truly believe that he's doing good. Freddie Quell almost can't help himself. He's damaged by the war, among many other things, and often acts out of loneliness and anger.
What to watch for
Violence: A man gets into fistfights, seemingly over small things. He pounds on his enemies even when exhorted to stop. Screams, taunts, and insults fly. A man has a fit in a jail cell, ripping his shirt off, kicking the commode into bits, etc.
Sexy stuff: Men fashion a female form, complete with breasts, out of sand; one of them pretends to have sex with her. Later, the same man pleasures himself on a public beach. A woman makes her husband climax, but the scene isn't particularly sexual; in fact, it seems tinged with anger. A couple is shown in the middle of having sex; the woman's bare breasts are exposed. Women are shown full-frontal naked at a party.
Language: Fairly frequent use of words including "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," "c--t," "ass," "loser," "p---y," "c--k," "damn," and "douche."
Consumerism: Kools cigarettes figure prominently.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Period-accurate smoking, and lots of heavy drinking; one character even makes his own very potent brew, which includes chemicals like paint thinner.