This is a masterfully crafted example of whatever it is. There’s some controversy regarding whether it’s really just a litigation-proofed L. Ron Hubbard:The Early Years, but if it’s not, then what is it?
At face value, there isn’t nearly enough going on plot-wise to say. Is it an analogy for a USA damaged by post traumatic stress disorder, unable to get itself off a war footing, and subsequently failing to connect peaceably with the outside world? That’s what Joaquin Phoenix’s weathered and painfully grinning exoskeleton, which scarcely conceals the quivering mess within, seems to personify.
To actually tell that story would have been an achievement, but whatever’s going on here, wasn’t there a more effective way to allude to it? There are great performances all round and some powerful if disconnected scenes. Maybe disconnection is the point.