After years of stop-and-start production on Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film, fans of the director of Magnolia and There Will Be Blood can finally breathe easy. With a trailer and a Cannes sneak-peek, those who wouldn’t believe it till they saw it can now take a look at The Master. Then again, given the suspense rightly provoked by the teaser and its ominous metronome-y score, they’ll probably start holding their breaths for a different reason.
The trailer features an interrogation of star Joaquin Phoenix, who has blacked out about a mysterious “episode,” intercut with him as some sort of World War II-era military person on some sort of beach, in a scene that looks like it came from a horror adaptation of South Pacific. What the trailer does not feature is the film’s other stars, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, or any hint of the controversial subject the movie takes on. Although the New York Times has reported that Anderson says that the film is not about Scientology, that doesn’t mean that people won’t know what you mean if you refer to it as The Paul Thomas Anderson Scientology Movie—and plenty of conspiracy theorists have posited that the organization had a hand in the film’s production troubles. (Hoffman plays the L. Ron Hubbard-ish part.) The Paul Thomas Anderson web hub Cigarettes & Red Vines reports that the audience at Cannes yesterday got to see more than twice the amount of footage contained in the trailer, and that the footage included scenes with Hoffman and Adams, along with plenty of evidence that the movie, while not a strict historical take on Scientology, is close enough to count.
The Master is due in theaters in October.