Review: There Will Be Blood
PLOT: Set in the booming West coast oil fields at the turn of the 20th century, THERE WILL BE BLOOD follows the rise of rugged prospector Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) who becomes an independent oilman after hitting it rich with the strike of a lifetime.
REVIEW: While other films may wind up winning more awards at Oscar time, there is no doubt that the one film that will truly stand the test of time and become a "new classic" is Paul Thomas Anderson's exceptional epic THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Destined to be remembered, BLOOD is a film so good, many will wonder how a film of its scope and unflinching malevolence ever got made.
It may be cliche to refer to a movie like blood as a "sprawling epic" but it certainly is a fitting description. Traditionally though an epic is used to describe something of heroic achievements. There is nothing heroic about Daniel Plainview but but his character's progression certainly is grand. From a quiet silver miner to a brooding megalomaniac, Plainview takes misanthropy to an extreme.
It may not sound like the kind of movie you'd like to soak up during the holiday season, but a viewing of THERE WILL BE BLOOD will be nothing but the very best of belated gifts for any film fan. BLOOD is a masterpiece the likes of which we haven't seen in some time.
BLOOD begins in the late-19th century as Plainview digs for silver and gold in a hole in the ground. He breaks a leg while excavating, one of the many job-related injuries we see in the first act of the film. Throughout this opening scene there is nary a word spoken and we are instead introduced to Jonny Greenwood's score; a haunting, electronic melody that hints at darker times to come. And darker times there are.
Later, as Plainview moves from gold to oil, he adopts the young baby of a colleague who died while working at an oil derrick. That boy, H.W., and his relationship with his father becomes a central part of the plot as Plainview's oil concern becomes quite the family business.
Equally as important is Plainview's relationship with Eli Sunday, the son of a man the blooming oil baron is trying to take advantage of. The two have an immediate dislike for each other (likely due to the extreme similarities in their very nature) and their power struggle over a small oil town span varying degrees of humiliation and violence.
As Plainview becomes more successful, he becomes increasingly paranoid and hateful eventually revealing, "I want to earn enough money so I can get away from everyone." Mo' money, mo' problems to the fullest and as the film progresses we see him retreating into his own hate and distrust for society. Not, of course, before final showdowns with a now grown H.W. and Eli.
BLOOD would seem to be a departure for director Paul Thomas Anderson but after letting the movie settle, you realize there are some certain thematic elements that are similar to his other great epic BOOGIE NIGHTS. Both tell the story of men who achieve a great deal of success despite modest backgrounds and become unable to accept their newfound wealth and power.
In case you've forgotten since GANGS OF NEW YORK, Daniel Day-Lewis once again proves he's the greatest actor working today with a chilling portrayal of a brooding sociopath. Day-Lewis delivers a performance so nuanced it's a sheer delight to watch. As an actor, Day-Lewis can give you something with a slight facial expression that many actors couldn't give you in a five minute monologue.
The rest of the cast is equally as impressive with even little Dillon Freasier turning in a touching performance as young H.W. and Paul Dano and Kevin J. O'Connor both strong in their respective parts (eagle eyes might note former "Saturday Night Live" veteran and BILLY MADISON principal James Downey in a bit part).
There are only mild hints at what drives Plainview's mental state leaving the topic open for much debate and frequent viewings. Movie fans will also be able to spend hours discussing the film's unsettling finale, which at first seems abrupt and intense but perfectly fits the characters and their arcs.
THERE WILL BE BLOOD is the type of movie of which people say, "they don't make 'em like that anymore." For once, they have made it like that again and it will surely be revered as a classic far longer than anything else you see this year. While the amount of movies I've seen this year isn't exactly on the level of Richard Roeper or A.O. Scott, THERE WILL BE BLOOD is the best movie I've seen in 2007.
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