Movie Review for There Will Be Blood (2007)


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Review #595 of 365
Movie Review of There Will Be Blood (2008) [R] 158 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $13.75
Where Viewed: Landmark Mayan, Denver, CO
When Seen: 8 January 2008
Time: 4:30 pm
DVD Release Date: 8 April 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: Download now from Jonny Greenwood - There Will Be Blood (Music from the Motion Picture) - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson (Punch-Drunk Love)
Screenplay by: Paul Thomas Anderson (Punch-Drunk Love) Based on novel Oil by Upton Sinclair

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Daniel Day-Lewis (The Ballad of Jack and Rose) • Kevin J. O'Connor (Seraphim Falls) • Ciarán Hinds (Amazing Grace) • Dillon Freasier (debut) • Russell Harvard (Signage) • Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine) • Sydney McCallister (debut) • David Willis (The Good German) • James Downey (debut) • Robert Arber (debut) • David Warshofsky (Running Scared) • Colton Woodward (debut) • Hans Howes (Lucky You)


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From the opening chord to the final credits roll, Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood based on Upton Sinclair's Oil! feels ominous and foreboding. Like a needle in the mind though, something seems off in that which remains in the thoughts after the film's torrential performance by Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview subsides. Here's how it goes, the film starts, a little like 2001: A Space Odyssey with dread-filling dialog-free segment as Plainview struggles to get ore from a mine he's staked, breaks his leg in a terrible fall, and worms his way along the ground to get his results assayed. It's 1902, and this is a great or bad time to be a prospector depending on the combination of skills at play and good, old-fashioned luck. His hard work pays off over time as he learns the ropes in the booming new oil business and scores a couple of lively wells. His world turns upside down, however, when a visit from a truly odd little bird named Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) arrives to lure him to the promised land of oil and honey. He claims that for a mere $500 cash now, he'll spill the beans to a location where oil is more abundant than water. Intrigued by the showmanship if nothing else, Plainview and his associate Fletcher Hamilton (Ciarán Hinds) sign off on the deal and learn of the Sunday ranch in Little Boston. Disguised as quail hunters, Plainview and his suspiciously motherless son H.W. (Dillon Freasier) arrive one day at the Sunday ranch. Greeted by Abel Sunday (David Willis) himself, he indicates that he and H.W. are there to enjoy the sport of bird hunting. Able Sunday is overly hospitable offering them food and drink and help setting up their tents. Plainview accepts the milk and some potatoes, but no more. He's there, after all, really to prospect for oil; and, much to his delight, H.W. finds it. After that, it's all about figuring out a good way of convincing the townspeople to go along with his plan which includes buying up the entire region for himself for he knows in his bones he's standing on a sea of oil just under his feet. He will have to convince and work with the town's local, self-proclaimed healer and vessel of the lord, Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) who looks suspiciously a lot like Paul Sunday. Daniel Plainview never lets on that he had a previous visit from Paul, but he does not do a great job of hiding his skepticism if not utter disdain for Eli's religious practices. In fact, ultimately, it will take his promise of a sizeable donation of money to Eli's church to get him and therefore the rest of the town on board with his plan to erect multiple derricks and begin pumping out his oil.

The story, at it's very core, is of one man's particular motivation to reach the top of his game at any cost and his subsequent and singular plunge into the darkness of a lonely, suspicious, and stark raving mad lunatic. The truth is that he doesn't like other people, and he cannot abide losing out to them. He'll pay the ultimate price in the end, but so will others that either try to cross him or enlighten him. The film could be utterly pointless and tiresome were it not for the astonishing portrayal of Daniel Plainview by Daniel Day-Lewis. It is too bad for all the other actors who gave some of the best performances of their careers this year to have to be in the same nominating year for awards with this performance by Mr. Day-Lewis. This is one of those incredibly rare times in film when the character consumes the actor. In Daniel Plainview, there's almost nothing left of Daniel Day-Lewis.


There Will Be Blood represents the movie equivalent of caviar or high-end sushi—it's not for everyone.
This is a totally unique and original new person. From his particular and plain yet potent style of diction to that moustache and purely vacuous eyes as cavernous as the underground fields he leaves behind yet as black as pure crude oil itself, Daniel Plainview will become the new benchmark case study in acting schools. Inasmuch as there were so many other brilliant lead roles by actors in 2007, it is difficult to imaging Day-Lewis's name not being read right after, "…and the award goes to". As for the rest of the film, it pales in comparison to this performance. It's the wake behind this steamship. Paul Dano, a rising star, dares to compete on screen. His fate is barely better than that of his character's. Some try to get a word in edgewise, even young Dillon Freasier as H.W. tries, but Daniel's eyes look right through people while even hugging them to death. And this incongruity between the enormous Daniel Plainview and everything else, results in a film that is barely watchable beyond Plainview. It shares this quality, somewhat, with the film about another reclusive and tragic Texas billionaire, The Aviator—though, as a whole, that film was more uniform and likeable. There are no romances or aviation records to be exalted here, just Plainview facing his reckoning overlapped with Jonny Greenwood's often unnerving musical score.

Paul Thomas Anderson's meticulously-directed There Will Be Blood will be long-loved in the eyes of patrons of the medium who can appreciate his exquisite technique. Everyone should be able to see the brilliance of Mr. Day-Lewis's performances, but without meaning to offend, most everyone else is not going to enjoy or even like this film. Fans of films for the masses likely will label it arrogant, snobby even, in its approach. Some will refer to it as a film only critics and Paul Thomas Anderson's friends and family could love. Ironically, Paul Dano's performance would be dubbed "over the top" in just about any other film. Some viewers have noted audience misbehavior during screenings and entire rows walking out mid-film--probably better to leave than to ruin the experience for those willing or eager to have it. Still better though, knowing a bit more about it beforehand and predetermining a match to one's movie palate. There Will Be Blood represents the movie equivalent of caviar or high-end, in other words not a California Roll, sushi—it's just not for everyone.



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Cast Members
Daniel Day-LewisKevin J. O'ConnorCiarán Hinds
Dillon FreasierRussell HarvardPaul Dano
Sydney McCallisterDavid WillisJames Downey
Robert ArberColton Woodward
Director
Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer
Paul Thomas Anderson
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Review-lite There Will Be Blood (2007) [max of 150 words]
From the opening chord to the final credits roll, Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood based on Upton Sinclair's Oil! feels ominous and foreboding. Like a needle in the mind though, something seems off in that which remains in the thoughts after the film's torrential performance by Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview subsides. At it's core, this is one man's particular motivation to reach the top of his game at any cost and his subsequent and singular plunge into the darkness of a lonely, suspicious, and stark raving mad lunatic. Everyone should be able to see the brilliance of Mr. Day-Lewis's performances, but without meaning to offend, most everyone else is not going to enjoy or even like this film--it represents the movie equivalent of high-end sushi—it's just not for everyone.

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1 comment:

cinemoose said...

As much as the movie wants to mean something and have something to say, it just doesn't work. The writing is too thin and the directing too meandering which really is a testament to Daniel Day-Lewis's enjoyable, albeit one note, performance that people don't really notice this. For a full breakdown on why this movie is overrated, read this:

http://cinemoose.com/review-there-will-be-blood/

And for a breakdown on why this movie is receiving so much critical acclaim, read this:

http://cinemoose.com/there-will-be-blood-and-the-emperors-new-clothes/