Script Review: Untitled, by P.T. Anderson

Heyo, I’m back. Computer is fixed and I’ve quite a few things to review (The Last Station and some classics I caught over the past week+). I’ve also gotten into the habit of reading scripts and fortunately for me, I have connections and was able to read the Untitled Scientology script by Paul Thomas Anderson. One of the few in the world, I believe, so I’m quite content with myself.

SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD: It isn’t the type of film you can really spoil, but because I have to ‘prove’ myself now it divulges into the plot and themes far more.

PLOT SYNOPSIS: Freddie, a young man in his mid-20s, has his appendix burst. Not a man too concerned for family, he abandoned his routes after a falling out with his 16 year old girlfriend (he was an adult at the time) and found his calling with the Navy. However because of this medical problem, he can no longer handle the rigorous tasks the Navy calls upon their men. Isolated and looking for a new reason to continue living, Freddie becomes an alcoholic at the snap of finger; so much so that he brews his own ale — an ale so strong that, when in southern US, a poor immigrant worker drinks ‘an unbalanced quantity’, goes into convulsions and is assumed to have died while Freddie scampers away from the site.

Afraid of being caught, Freddie hops aboard the first vessel he spots. Half drunk out of his mind, half worried for his life and half looking for work, this type of calculation indicates the mess that is Freddie. Aboard the ship, a man that goes by Master (the role Philip Seymour Hoffman is set to portray and who is an allegorical L. Ron Hubbard) begins to guide Freddie. He asks him odd questions in an attempt to rid him of his dependencies. This is where they begin to bond which snowballs into a far more friendly affair.

Master has a family — a wife and four children (three daughters, one about to get married, and a son) — and a group of followers that adhere to everything he says. He’s also skeptical of strangers, which allows for this generally composed character to have moments of frantic uncertainty. It will be vastly interesting to see what Philip Seymour Hoffman does with the role because it’s undeniably his most diverse to date.

WHAT PTA DRIVES AT: Well, the film is about finding your identity (as stated… it’s really that vague or reads that way) with Master trying to cohort dowdy people to formulate some truth they can all abide by. They’re all misfits in a way. There’s a contrast when Master’s daughter gets married that shows a perhaps more ‘competent’ way of life; rejecting his new belief.

It also shows how much one will strive to achieve a true reflection of self. Freddie gets tattoos after he’s gone through his trials to show anybody willing to peel away a single layer (of fabric) from him who he is and what he’s all about. He gets a tattoo “Too Tough To Die” to commemorate falling off a balcony at a cinema (while drunk), which takes an ironic turn when he lands next to a woman he seduced with his impertinence, heavily discussing Scientology at the time. She tells him she saved his life with that knowledge — she in turn stayed by his side at the hospital until he awoke.

As I love in cinema (and others do as well, I’m sure) there is a unique contrast of characters. Freddie has long been hindered by giving up on the love of his life because he thought he could find himself at sea, while Master has a loving family and appears to have himself figured out. Freddie is erratic, Master is wise — but the tables tend to turn with Master being a tad more flimsy with logic and Freddie being more assertive. Master’s son is also appalled by Master’s work within the ‘church’. This adds an additional element in that you may believe that Master is trying to replace the son he doesn’t care for with Freddie. This would explain why he tries so hard to mold the young man who is on the verge of killing himself with his homemade drink. Master’s song and dance at the end to Freddie evokes how much Master adores him. It borders homosexual, but I sense it’s more of a way to bond with him… like a son. This conflicts with Freddie’s interpretation of the world which leads to the final scene…

Freddie laying in bed with a new woman (named Winn). He continually asks her what he name is (reiterating ‘who are we?). At the end he says “Maybe this isn’t our only life”. This left me with the impression that Freddie’s heart still resides within the Master’s group, as he tells him his spirit has traveled for thousands of years and inhabited other bodies. And even though he is drunk while he says this — something the Master wanted him to give up completely — it implies that the conflict in finding yourself will never be resolved.

So it isn’t straightforward in any way and is thematic on a broad spectrum. It also has tidbits about how entrancing sex is — Master yelping out “Master” while his wife jerks him off in a scene; Freddie’s continual incestuous relations with his Aunt because “it felt good”; the sins of flesh assumed in the final scene. There’s a segment here where Master’s daughter attempts to seduce Freddie, but he declines her advances. Be it because he felt apart of the family or believed that a stable mind need not sex to live (which is juxtaposed to the scene where Master gets a reach around, where you start to heavily question Master)

OVERALL IMPRESSION: The script was mashed together rather haphazardly (like this review, ha… ha…) which led to some jumbled moments with Anderson’s abrasive use of caps lock and underlining. Apparently he believes half of his script is extremely important. I’m sure that all of this will find resolve when he directs the film. Same goes for the few instances where PTA places “Insert Dialogue Later” during parties or get togethers. Menial stuff and not anything that derails the cadence of the story.

I was asked if there were any memorable set pieces in the film like the derrick in There Will Be Blood or the frogs in Magnolia. There aren’t any, although a motorcycle is fairly prominent when characters wish to throw off the shackles of life and be free. I’d imagine the cinematography may treat the vehicle with an abundance of glamor if Anderson feels it important to highlight the importance of freedom. If he does this, it undoubtedly clash with the dejected theme he aims for and question why the all the character’s just don’t go out and buy motorcycles to cure their woes. Eh.

For the lead role of Freddie, I imagined a Paul Dano type. Perhaps a little bit bulkier as one would imagine a slightly bloated gut to accompany alcoholism and a burst appendix. Someone mostly scrawny and who can play off drunkenness well will do favorably in this part. Hoffman as Master is a wicked choice — expect a second Oscar win for what he puts himself through. The rest of the cast is rather plain… it’s like a The Last King of Scotland in that sense: two major characters and everyone else just, well, there.

It reads at 124 pages. If you go the traditional minute per page, you get just over two hours. Of course, I think that’s too simply a strategy, so I go by what I feel it is. The first 10-15 pages are heavily descriptive, so I imagined them slightly longer. I figure this will be about 135 minutes long without credits. So perhaps 140 minutes overall.

FINAL WORD: Poorly written, but excellently constructed, Untitled Scientology is one of the better scripts I’ve ever read (not too big a feat, but…). In addition, it has an ending that will keep you thinking — I know it has for me, and I read it two days ago. PTA’s assembling of themes is, as always, individual. With the ability to exploit Scientology (or all religion, if he’d wished), Anderson instead deflects any parody to that of a personal variety. Rather than demean a group, he quizzes each of us. It isn’t what you’d expect a film to be about when “the origins of Scientology” are in the cards, so I applaud Anderson for making this grander than the cinematic cheap shot one would anticipate.

It’s more Punch Drunk Love than anything else as he utilizes a distinct mood to drive an age old theme. There are also smaller things mentioned throughout the course of the film like communism and how Master is afraid that people (some communists, some not) are trying to get him. Trademark Anderson: a lot of ruminating to be done when the curtain comes down. Of course, it boils down to how he plans on directing this film that will make it or break it. If he goes a more refined route (a la Boogie Nights or There Will Be Blood) as opposed to his diverse ways (Punch Drunk Love) during production, I’ll like it more. If he doesn’t, I’m sure it’ll still be a good feature — just not as for me.

Oh and a reply to The Playlist people because when I click “Post a Comment” it gives me ‘Bad Request’.

If you happened to read the opening of my review, I insinuate that this is my first ever script review (one that hasn’t been leaked at that, so I’ll obscure the plot more as to not offend). I don’t like giving too much away about a film, however if people would rather have the majority of the film explained to them then fine, I’ll comply. I’ve revised it: it certainly did need the adjustment. You’re right there. Just take my reviews as the antithesis of yours: caring to preserve story and explain thought.

And what? ‘Your source’ is skeptical of me? And you also believe that I may have read a script not written by Anderson himself… and you won’t believe me until you read said script? Alright, well I’m not about to leak the thing. How about a page to quash your pessimism?

UPDATE: It’s three, almost four years later, and I fucking nailed it! In your face, Playlist bitches. <3 Tyler

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35 thoughts on “Script Review: Untitled, by P.T. Anderson

  1. Haha said says:

    can you maybe try and work on this synopsis a bit? It feels unfinished or confused. You barely describe what this movie is about in a basic way.

  2. forizzer69 says:

    Sure.

  3. abe says:

    It wasn’t really the content of your review that Playlist dude was criticizing. He was mainly focusing on your writing.

    Awkward phrases like “there is a unique contrasting” do not a good review make.

    I believe you, though. If that means anything…

    • forizzer69 says:

      Well it was when he initially sought to insult me. He only began to criticize my writing after he called me a liar. Perhaps the two were more intertwined than I’m assuming, but it seems like too much of a folly for someone to undertake when we don’t know each other.

      I agree. I wrote the revisions quickly and have only now gone through it and fixed the few errors I spotted.

  4. Slappy says:

    I don’t mean to call you a liar. I don’t believe you are. I believe that you believe that what you have is legitimate. The only thing that sounds suspect about it is that it’s allegedly called Untitled Scientology Project when it doesn’t sound like Anderson’s own intention was to write specifically about Scientology. It’s very explicitly stated in the announcement of the film as well that the film isn’t about Scientology. It sounds like it’s possible that somebody that read the announcement and misinterpreted the synopsis as the film actually being about Scientology perhaps wrote a fan script of what they thought a PT Anderson script should look like.

    If you could give us more assurance as to the authenticity of the script in regards to where it came from (even as vague as knowing that your source definitely could put his paws on it from someone close to Anderson without outing your source) it would probably lend a little more credence to the claim.

    Again, don’t take this as an attack, but that stands out as a little fishy (regarding the material, not you being duplicitous intentionally).

    • forizzer69 says:

      Well the film is hardly about Scientology. I don’t think I insinuate it is about it much (I even said I applauded him for being able to mock L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology and Religion but opted against it), but there are definitely moments where the religion of Scientology is referred to. Near the end, a woman working for Master doesn’t know who Freddie is and she asks him “Would you like a personality test” or something close to that.

      And the film begins in 1952: the year L. Ron Hubbard published Dianetics. It certainly is about Scientology is some respect, but not in a way one would imagine. Scientology/religion/cults is the backdrop, not at the forefront.

      I’m not going to risk someone’s career or anything over being given the script. Apparently my review touches on the same things that some other review does. I’m not 100% this is legit, but I’m taking it as such until proven otherwise. Especially since the person who gave it to me is a good friend of mine.

      • Slappy says:

        Thank you for the clarifications. Your response was a much more reasonable one than the one below my post!

        The way you put it here I’m a little more inclined to believe that what you have is the real deal. I wouldn’t expect you to put somebody’s career on the line to prove your point. I’ve been in a similar spot before and would always err on the side of caution in protecting my source. I was just wondering what else you could offer up.

        So again, thanks for putting a little perspective on this for us. I’m excited to get my paws on a copy. I’ll have to ask around to some of my fellow development friends.

      • Slappy says:

        So, Forizzer, I’ve since gotten a copy of the draft that you possess and I have come back to apologize for casting doubt on you. I firmly believe that it is a legitimate Paul Thomas Anderson script.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Okay, guys. To clear this up once and for all. The script is real, I have it as well. All you “omg it’s a fake”: NO YOU ARE NOT GETTING IT. We don’t fall for little traps and giving it away to little kids like yourselves, and we won’t cry when we read your little immature comments. Take this review as is, otherwise leave. That’s my only advice.

    • Name says:

      The way I see it, if you can’t figure out where to find it, you don’t deserve to have it. And it’s worthless leaving a bunch of “send me the script!” comments unless you leave your email on the page. I highly doubt this guy will send them to you, but if you’re lucky a kind soul might just stop by and take pity on you…

  6. JWQ says:

    LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE!

  7. James says:

    Is there any chance that someone will tell me where this leaked script is available for download? lol

  8. RI says:

    I have to read this. Does anyone know where to get it?

  9. jimmy says:

    could you possibly email me the script. im so psyched to hear p.t. is making a new movie. and i know its real i’ve seen the pics you posted over at xixax’s message board. hit me up man!

    • Leeroy Wyrtl says:

      I know the chances are slim to none of anonymously being able to convince you to send me the script in email, but I can’t help trying can I?

      First of all thanks for the review. I found your blog from the cigarettes and red vines site which I check often. I’m not a member of forums and in fact not very active on the internet at all with the exception of research and news. I’m a budding screenwriter, with 3 spec scripts written and thrown away as I have found is often the custom when one is learning to write.

      So, my intentions are pure, sir. I have watched this thing escalate as people like the fine folks at playlist took pot shots at you. However, I never doubted, as I know PTA’s voice pretty well and even from your review I felt pretty sure that you had gotten ahold of the real deal.

      So please, pretty please, since every hipster who is online getting their hands on this thing probably doesn’t care much to learn about the process of writing a script, could you send it to me?

      I only want to learn from my favorite screenwriter. I won’t leak it, and considering the fact that you aren’t the only person on the internet now who has it, I simply don’t want to wait for it or a more polished draft to be leaked. I want to read it now and compare a script at this stage to my own process and hopefully learn from it.

      If not, then I simply thank you for the review and insight, and for reading this long winded beggar’s plea. Keep it up Forizzer!

  10. Deezy says:

    Like the last two gentlemen said: I need this, I’m a huge PT Anderson fan and have many scripts which you may want to review on this site, which I’m willing to trade for. Likewise, keep up the good work!!!

  11. Charles says:

    Soon we’re going to have it. You’re not giving it out because you know that once it’s freely available there’ll again be no interest in your blog, but its release is inevitable as I see it. Your moment in the sun can’t last forever.

  12. Azzdine says:

    Who have the script please !!!!!!!

  13. Noah says:

    forizzer,

    You seem like a nice dude; sorry all the snarky internet a’holes responded to your news with such idiotic cruelty.

    I don’t really have anything interesting to say, but I think it sucks that it was your blog that kicked the lid off this whole thing, and yet you only have 19 comments. Meanwhile, the entire film-boy internet is buzzing about what yuou posted.

    Ah, well. Jealousy kills. Or, at least, it makes anonymous a’holes who can post anything without having to ever face anyone eye to eye look like children. You come out of this looking good.

    -na

    • forizzer69 says:

      Haha, it’s alright man. Never meant for these words to go viral (well until the rewrite) but whatever’s whatever. I’ll see if I can get permission to review Contagion because I know that’s a high profile script that a lot are interested in hearing about. Then again, do I really want more of the bitch slap the internet can offer? We’ll see!

      Anyway thanks for the kind words.

  14. Name says:

    This is seriously the worst script review (or review of anything) that I have ever read. Truly terrible. Obviously not a big script reader, are you…

    • forizzer69 says:

      Nope, I made that pretty clear early on. I’ve read like… five? Five at most. As for reviewing scripts, I’ve never read a review for one so I just threw thoughts together along with a bit of plot because, as I said, I don’t wish to spoil the entire thing for people. But it’s whatever.

      So I’m assuming you’ve read it then? That’s alright, I guess. Don’t really get the point of the second reply but… OK.

  15. Name says:

    And, for the record, the script is and has been pretty easy to find if you have half a clue where to look…

  16. jt huston says:

    I have the screenplay and lemme just say that PT would NOT approve of this! You people suck the fun out of everything! Computers ruin films. How would Otto Preminger feel if “Laura” was leaked for people to read in book stores or Mankiewicz’s All About Eve.

    shame on you all.

  17. c225b says:

    My main fear is that the premature leaking of this information might actually hinder PTA’s attempts at getting the film made. The Church of Scientology had the authority to successfully blacklist South Park’s ‘Trapped in the Closet’ episode for a year, and that was a major TV show, not an indie film. It seems that this leak may cause more studios like Universal to view the unfinished script as poison, and the ‘Church’ to use Fair Game to block its release or intimidate the cast, whether it’s ‘about’ L Ron Hubbard or not. Too soon to bring the heat on poor PTA. BTW, I wonder what Magnolia’s Tom Cruise would have to say about this.

  18. Nolan Glover says:

    Young screenwriter here, looking to learn from ‘The Master’.
    Any tips on where I might find a copy of this screenplay?
    I’ve never read an Anderson script that’s failed to impact my craft for the better.

    Would be obliged to any kind soul who might point me in the right direction.

    with a tip of my virtual hat,
    [Nolan8011]

    PS-
    I may be found at the bracketed name above + hotmail.com

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