Its based on Scientology but this 50s-set drama is more high-brow bromance than hardcore exposé.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is Lancaster Dodd, a charismatic cult leader whose new movement brings devotion and skepticism in equal measure.
Joaquin Phoenix is Freddie Quell, a traumatised sailor seeking comfort in ample bosoms and noxious home brews.
The two seem like opposites but when they meet, Dodd sees a project and Quell sees well, were not sure. A new family? Potential salvation? A bed for the night?
This film from Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) offers no easy answers and takes its time as each man struggles with his demons. But scene for scene its one of the most masterful films of the year: visually stunning, beautifully characterised, impeccably performed.
Amy Adams is brilliant as Dodds quietly powerful wife and Phoenixs half-crazed, hunched-back, curled-lip turn puts him straight back on the Academys radar.
Eccentric, for sure, but unmissable all the same.
The Master is in cinemas now
Watch the trailer for The Master here