Written and Directed
by Paul Thomas Anderson
Running Time: 2:38
for some violence.
There Will Be Blood was an extremely long but utterly fascinating film wholly due to Daniel Day-Lewis's powerhouse performance.
Daniel Plainview and his son, H.W. Plainview are oil men. They go up and down the state of California looking for oil deposits, then do whatever they have to, to convince the landowners to sell to them. But in one small town they run into a young preacher named Eli Sunday, who has his own ideas for the town. The two battle each other for the hearts and minds of the townspeople, while both slowly descend into their own versions of Hell.
There is no doubt in my mind that without Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role, There Will Be Blood would have been complete and utter nonsense. In fact, the movie is extremely bizarre and hard to understand at times. It doesn't really seem to have a point and it rambles on for over two-and-a-half hours. Yet, because of Day-Lewis's over-the-top performance, I could not take my eyes off the screen. I don't think there is another actor past or present that could have pulled off this role, and his Academy Award is completely deserved. Paul Dano is the only other actor in the film that could even come close to the power of Day-Lewis's performance. In any other film, with any other actor, Dano would have gotten some serious awards recognition, but as he was up against a juggernaut, his performance sort of got lost in the shuffle. But his character was probably even more demented than Plainview, just on a different scale. He took creepiness to whole other level.
Visually the film was quite stunning and in my Oscar pool I tipped Robert Elswit to win the Academy Award for Cinematography. However due to Tilda Swinton's upset win in the Best Supporting Actress category, I lost my pool anyway. But I digress. The film was extremely dark and moody with these dull tones that made things like fire and oil stand out from the darkness. If it had looked sharper or more modern, I'm not sure the film would have been as good. The same goes for the movie's score by Jonny Greenwood. It was so dark and moody that you were subconsciously in that mood yourself the entire film. The story is fairly simple when it comes right down to it. Plainview wants to be a huge oil baron, and he takes his son along for the ride. In most places, people accept him and the money he brings in, but once in a while he'll run into trouble. And when his back is against the wall and he feels attacked or uncertain, that's when the dark side comes out. And when Plainview explodes, watch out, because all of Hell comes with him. The character is one of the most complex you'll ever see.
And then there is the now famous 'milkshake' scene that has been glamorized on t-shirts and SNL skits. The thing is, while taken out of context the idea of Daniel Day-Lewis drinking YOUR MILKSHAKE is kind of funny, within the framework of the film, and the scene, it's horrifying. It comes towards the end of the film when we're decades past where most of the film takes place. Plainview and Sunday meet up again after years apart and get into a discussion that ends with one of the strangest moments in film history. That one scene was terrifying to watch because you finally and truly see both men reach their breaking points, only Plainview has gone off the deep end. And then the movie finishes and you're left bewildered and wondering what just happened over the last 158 minutes. I have to say at the end of the movie I just sat staring at the screen trying to figure out if what I saw was genius or a mess. I'm still not 100% sure, but it again all comes back to Daniel Day-Lewis. I can't overemphasize enough how fantastic and amazing his performance was. To me, it is one of the top 5 best acting performances I've ever seen. And that is enough reason to watch this movie.
The Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition comes with a bunch of extras, including the standard making-of documentary and some deleted scenes. There is also this fascinating black & white silent film about the oil business, with music by Jonny Greenwood. It too is much like the film: not sure what the point is, but I couldn't stop watching. It was almost comical visually, but with Greenwood's music backing it, it became much more serious than it was supposed to be. What I liked most about the DVD is the packaging. It comes in a slim, foldover case, not the snapcase most DVDs come in. It seems to be more Earth-friendly. The one issue I do have with both versions of the DVD however, is the artwork. They have some of the strangest box art I've seen on a film.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, There Will Be Blood is an acting tour-de-force from Daniel Day-Lewis. For that reason alone, everyone needs to see this film. You will likely not see a performance like this again in your lifetime.
Netflix DVD Rentals. Only $4.99 a month. NO LATE FEES; Free Shipping. Try for FREE!