After spending the last five years waiting with baited breath and clinging to Daniel Plainview’s shirttails, Paul Thomas Anderson has finally given us a brief respite. The teaser trailer for his 1950s-era religious psychodrama, The Master, debuted today on the film’s website and needless to say, it sent our cinematic senses abuzz. However, this is just a taste of what’s to come and after watching the teaser we’re left just as confused as we were before.
What we knew before the teaser: This marks the fifth collaboration between Anderson and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, from lovelorn boom operator in Boogie Nights to the titular L. Ron Hubbard-esque religious founder Anderson’s newest film And although Hoffman is disappointingly absent from the teaser, we can sense him looming out of frame. The film is said to focus on the relationship between a charismatic leader, whose new religion is worming its way through America, and Freddie Sutton, played by Joaquin Phoenix, a wayward drifter who becomes the Master’s right-hand man who eventually begins to question his belief.
What we know now: Anderson always had a unique approach to exposing his characters and making the audience feel both deeply unsettled and absolutely engrossed. With only a minute and forty seconds, he’s again managed to reel us in. From the first second, we’re drawn to his cool yet sophisticated cinematography—washed-out moments in the sun to off-kilter and uncomfortable close-ups—characteristics that seem to frame all of his work. And one of the most exciting details is the bite we get of Jonny Greenwood’s evocative and quivering score. Greenwood, best known as the Radiohead guitarist and jack-of-all-trades, created an almost perfect score for There Will Be Blood; it’s no wonder Anderson brought him on again to make something so stirring that we already can’t stop listening it. In the teaser, we see what appear to be a mix of Freddie’s memories on a beach cut with scenes of him being questioned—which could be either before he joins the religion or after he begins denouncing it. Who knows! That’s the fun part. At this point, all we know is that we’re excited and that we want more.