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132 Ratings

A Master Builder

Directed by Jonathan Demme
United States, 2013


A successful, ego-maniacal architect who has spent a lifetime bullying his wife, employees and mistresses wants to make peace as his life approaches its final act.

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A Master Builder Directed by Jonathan Demme
It has a bright, chamber-drama appearance that comes off a bit Merchant-Ivory-ish, which understates the strangeness of the material. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—the hallucinatory quality of a dying architect’s last grasping stabs at life sneak up on the audience… A Master Builder is deeply fascinating without making that ultimate leap of poetic imagination that could make its ending transcendent instead of merely preordained.
July 05, 2015
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Jonathan Demme’s movie A Master Builder (2014) galvanizes Henrik Ibsen’s heavily symbolic drama The Master Builder—a wonderful play to read, a difficult one to stage—into a vivid, nightmarish dream. Hollywood adapters used to concentrate on “opening up” celebrated plays by scattering the action and taking it outdoors. Demme’s A Master Builder opens up The Master Builder by burrowing down into the psyche of its artisan antihero and turning his home into a dreamscape.
June 17, 2015
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It took me a while to adjust to the heightened tone, but this is a terrific performance film, and brilliantly cast. Crackling with neurotic electricity, Julie Hagerty’s Aline suggests the emaciated intensity of a medieval martyr and the bitter monomania of a character who now channels all her desire into a fixation with “obligation”; and she and Joyce make astute complementary casting, their huge eyes uncannily suggesting mother and daughter, or versions of the same woman.
July 24, 2014
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