Film Reviews

THERE WILL BE BLOOD

By • Jan 11th, 2008 •

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What happens in the first seven minutes of the new Paul Thomas Anderson movie THERE WILL BE BLOOD is merely a set up for what will ultimately become an intriguing story of greed and corruption in the early 1900’s. I was one of the fortunate ones to go in cold. I like to do that from time to time.
The film opens on one character drilling for oil in a wretched hole in the earth. He is hurt, and at first we don’t think this man will make it up alive, but he does. Action ensues with no dialog for the next several minutes. This does not matter; we are already hooked into the story.
Daniel Day Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, a soon-to-be oil tycoon drilling for the black gold in the rich earth of southern California. His days and nights are spent with his men and their families, draining the land of its natural resources. A drilling accident early in the film takes the life of one of his men and Daniel, feeling somewhat responsible for the accident, adopts his baby boy and claims him as his own.

Parading around as a two-man team, Daniel and his young son H.W. look into buying up as much land as they can get their hands on to drill. An unexpected tip by a local preacher’s son leads them to a small town where oil can be seen seeping through the surface of the earth. Feeling an opportunity of a lifetime, Daniel and H.W. set out to buy up the land, starting with the preacher’s family in their holy roller town and working their way across the terrain so they can lay oil pipes to the ocean, cutting out expensive train shipping. Once there, they begin setting up shop with their team as the locals look on with vested interest. But it is the preacher’s son, Eli Sunday, who reads Daniel’s intentions correctly in what becomes an ongoing battle of good verses evil. Daniel Day Lewis delivers PT Anderson’s dialog with firm objectives, creating a character as robust as any in his prior films. Eli Sunday, played brilliantly by Paul Dano, (he worked with Daniel Day Lewis once before on THE BALLAD OF JACK AND ROSE) constantly tries to convert Daniel to his Christian beliefs and fold him into his obsessive world.

Cinematographer Robert Elswit ASC captures all the right images in the rich and rugged landscape, as hues of brown and black pop through his camera lenses. Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s magnificent staging of the action allows for brilliant acting, particularly by Daniel Day Lewis, sure to get an Oscar nod in what is an absolutely legendary performance. The film’s one downfall is the score. The narrative is laced with musical accompaniment through almost every sequence, which begins to border on annoying two hours in.
Paul Thomas Anderson has shown cinematic maturity well beyond his years with THERE WILL BE BLOOD. After a brief theatrical layoff, he has returned with a vengeance. This is certainly his best work, and that’s saying a lot from the director who made MAGNOLIA and BOOGIE NIGHTS.

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