Director – Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer – Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring – Daniel-Day Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciaran Hinds, Barry Del Sherman, Paul F. Thompkins
It’s not surprising that Paul Thomas Anderson’s newest offering There Will Be Blood has gotten so much critical acclaim. After Boogie Nights and Magnolia it seemed that Anderson had hit his filmmaking peek. But There Will Be Blood may very well be his finest film to date, and that’s saying something indeed.
Daniel Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, a miner who one day receives a mysterious tip-off about an area of land that is on top of a lot of oil. He heads out with his son HW, to take their chances drilling oil in the small but profitable town. Once there they meet a young preacher, Eli, and they soon make their lucky oil strike.
There Will Be Blood is not a film for everyone. Anyone who happens across it not knowing anything about it with more than likely be turned off by it. You need to know what you’re getting yourself in for, know the director, the actors and everything about it beforehand. It is a strange film, less worried about sticking with conventional filmmaking techniques and more about going its own way and doing what it wants to. The result is a sprawling film about family, faith, greed, power and how all of these affect and shape the lives of people. Like with Anderson’s other films most things aren’t set in stone. Most things are left open to interpretation, from what the film is about and the point of it even down to the dialogue and attitudes of the performances. It makes for an unusual experience, grabbing all sorts of usually untouched feelings and emotions from the viewers.
Over the past 15 years Daniel Day-Lewis has starred in only 6 movies, his career something you definitely couldn’t describe as prolific. Day-Lewis himself can, however, be described as many things; talented, engaging, fascinating and engrossing among many others. Since he pretty much picks and chooses his roles at will I think it is safe to say he believed in There Will Be Blood and his role as Daniel Plainview. He is nothing short of astonishing here as the greedy, power-hunger “oil man”, a performance to rival the greatest of all time. And from the numerous award nominations and critical acclaim it is clear I am not the only one who thinks so. What he brings to the table not many actors working today can match, he not only plays the character at hand, he becomes them and There Will Be Blood is his finest example of that. Looking at how quiet and meek he is in real-life it is astonishing how different he is when playing Plainview or any character for that matter. It requires something truly special as an actor for them to make the audience forget who they really are and believe in the character and Day-Lewis does just that.
The supporting actors are really just that. No one really has all that much screen-time, although they are pivotal to the film as a whole. Not least is the character of Eli, played with shocking conviction by Paul Dano. In the end though this is 100% Day-Lewis’ movie, with everyone else just there to accompany his magnificent leading performance.
Many audience members will feel there is something missing or at least not right with There Will Be Blood. The story itself isn’t the most compelling and how it plays out isn’t wound as tight together as most movies. As far as the film goes the area to look at and concentrate on is the technical side of things. First off is the musical score, created by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood. It is one of the most unusual, attention grabbing scores to accompany a film in a long time, and from opening note to closing it is clear it’s a work of genius. Sometimes a musical score can be annoying and just get in the way of what’s happening on-screen but in this case it fits in perfectly, really delivering the intended emotional and powerful impact. If you can think of a more unusual score in the 21st so far then let me know, because I sure as hell can’t.
Cinematographer Robert Elswit does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the time period and showcasing the gorgeous landscapes in such a way that is very pleasing to look at. This adds to the list along with The Assassination of Jesse James and No Country for Old Men as a few of the most visually stunning films of the last few years.
It’s not clear right away what the point of There Will Be Blood is or at least what’s it’s trying to say to the audience. It, at first, seemed a bit perplexing to say the least but after a few hours of thought and reflection everything becomes a bit clearer. Essentially the film is about greed, faith and the search for power and how it shapes the life of one man.
I can’t say enough good things about There Will Be Blood. It really is as good as everyone says, and particularly worth it for the phenomenal performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. Directly afterwards the film may leave you perplexed but you’ll soon realize it’s a masterpiece. There Will Be Awards.