Written for the screen and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (PTA). Loosely based on the novel “Oil!” by Upton Sinclair. Stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano. Scored by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead.
Before I start I should tell you that I went into this film already an intense fan of everyone involved and therefore am, more so than usual, biased. However, this also means that I had incredibly high, arguably borderline unreasonable expecations and was almost asking to be disappointed. But, as it turns out, my expectations weren’t quite high enough. There Will Be Blood lived up to the hype in every way.
The film starts with Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis) as a relatively poor silver miner in the late 1800’s. From there, we move to an oil-rich California at the turn of the century where Plainview negotiates his way into a fortune drilling for oil in and around a small community of ranchers and religious folk. At this point Plainview becomes consumed with greed and a need for control, leading to a rapid descent into madness. The consequences of having wealth and/or God as dominating aspects of life are explored along with the concept and birth of capitalism.
For some, There Will Be Blood will be an exercise in patience. It certainly doesn’t follow the typical movie structure or flow, and will probably end up alienating some viewers. The film opens silently (it’s roughly 10 to 15 minutes before the first lines of dialogue) and slowly builds in tension and pace until the climactic scene, which happens to be pretty incredible, thanks mostly to Mr. Day-Lewis.
Daniel Day Lewis’ performance in Blood is epic. It is no longer fair to classify him as an actor, he’s just too good. There’s no ‘acting’ or ‘performance’ involved, he becomes possessed by his character. He is Daniel Plainview. Day-Lewis is known for completely immersing himself in his roles, staying in character throughout the shoot and at times even cutting himself off from family. His dedication shows, and it’s no wonder that he rarely takes on film roles anymore.
There Will Be Blood is a huge departure for writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s incomparable to anything out there, including PTA’s past 4 films (Punch-Drunk Love, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and Sydney). This also, at least for me, cements PTA as a modern day Kubrick, AKA someone capable of making perfect, unparalleled films stretching over a wide range of genres and styles. And like Kubrick’s films, I’d bet that cinephiles will be talking about this one for quite a long time.
In all honesty, There Will Be Blood is so perfectly made that it’s surreal to view. Really, if you have any interest at all, I highly recommend seeing it. It’s completely worth every second of your time.
10/10, A+, 100%.