Kathryn Schroeder of FilmFracture wrote:
"When Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" premiered at the 2012 Venice Film Festival the immediate reaction from critics in attendance was that of high praise. The festival jury agreed, bestowing best actor awards to Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix and best director to Paul Thomas Anderson; and, as is expected at the Venice Film Festival, a scandal erupted over whether the best picture Golden Lion went to "The Master" or Kim Ki-duk's "Pieta". The admiration for filming on 65mm (to be seen on 70mm in theatres) also gave "The Master" an immediate boost is likability because in a dying world of film usage in lieu of the cheaper digital format a movie made on 65mm is rare beyond measure. The usage pays off as "The Master" is breathtakingly beautiful with its expansive extreme wide shots and uncomfortable close-ups that last far too long and cause one to stir in his seat from the intrusive nature of the shot. The trance inducing score with its methodocal rhthm only further creates an almost ominous feeling surrounding the entire film, creating a place in time that is haunted by the ghosts of the characters. The technical aspects of "The Master" are not what will have people talking after seeing it, and the scandal in Venice has since been forgotten, as the praise for "The Master" continues--but the worthiness of such praise is complicated, as "The Master"'s success or failure resides in a viewer's own perception of the material, and the material presented is difficult to process."