158 Min. | Drama | December 2007
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds
There Will Be Blood Review
“I’m an oil man!” Asserts Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) to a colony of naïve citizens of which he is astutely slipping into his trouser pocket one by one. However (in this case) the man speaks no lie for his veins do indeed run rich with plutonium oil. A crude, black substance embedded deep in the merciless heart of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s gargantuan North American epic – There Will Be Blood. A perpetually steady, emotionally-draining and dark character study of an oil guzzling tycoon that vigorously chews on the themes of gluttony and deception, faith and ambition, death and revulsion. Do not be mislead by its title, though. This is not some balls-to-the-wall slasher-flick. It is a gruelling, drawn-out dissection of a loathsome yet sinisterly-comical individual consumed and maddened by his own persona. And it’s absolutely formidable- visual and melodramatic arrestment at its bona fide best that exudes cinematic precision and awe with satire to spare. But it’s also a long-winded affair.
Ushering in a near dialogue-free opening 15 minutes with a distinct fade-in, Anderson wastes no time in introducing us to the protagonist. Daniel Day-Lewis plays…no scratch that, Daniel Day-Lewis is Daniel Plainview. An ambitious, moustached miner who, while thrashing away at the crust of his motherland – at the turn of the twentieth century – strikes oil. A profitable discovery that fortuitously leads him to H.W (Dillon Freasier), a new-born infant of whom he slots forcefully under his oil sodden wing only to drag about the entire continent in search of large segments of land in which crude oil is stirring directly beneath. Soon enough, Plainview forges a blossoming “family” oil drilling corporation that soon establishes itself as a force in the industry and prospects appear even brighter when, in 1911, Plainview receives a generously eerie, yet pricey tip-off as to where there may be a sturdy supply of his beloved oil. A tip-off in which he pursues like a unwavering moth to an oil fuelled flame as he meanders ominously into Little Boston, California where the true colours of the indomitable oil baron edge disturbingly into light.
Visually and acoustically, though, There Will Be Blood is outstanding – every nuance of every aural and cinematic component work so well with one another to help give the film such power and impact. As far as storytelling goes, Anderson has underperformed here. His narrative lacks any legitimate path or hooks and, to be honest, the lack of defining moments – bar the infamous confession and milkshake scenes – within 158 minute running length is a little disappointing. But the manner in which Day-Lewis dictates the audiences’ attention more or less vanquishes any negative thoughts regarding the muscle of the plot. Which is why it comes as no surprise that everybody and their brother have duly commended the London-born method actor’s impeccable, Oscar winning performance, the epitome of everything grand about Anderson’s fifth but not quite finest feature yet, profound, provoking, intense, immense. In spite of its flaws, There Will Be Blood is still an exceptionally powerful piece of cinema that’ll remain etched in the minds of those who take to it for quite some time. Even if it’s quality is not there for all to see, in plain view.
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