There Will Be Blood

  • 2008-02-20
  • By Tim Oscher

WELL, WELL, WELL: In the time when oil did the talking, Daniel Day-Lewis attempts to cash in on the elusive black gold.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
There is little I can say about "There Will Be Blood" that probably hasn't already been said by countless other critics. It is, quite simply, an exceptionally brilliant film by an exceptionally talented filmmaker.

I am a huge admirer of director Paul Thomas Anderson. His last two films, "Magnolia" and "Punch-Drunk Love" are, in my opinion, two of the best American films in recent years. But with "There Will Be Blood" he has arguably outdone both of them. It is truly a tale of biblical proportions.

The story follows the plight of Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis), a turn-of-the-century prospector who strikes oil in California. But his eventual fortune is many hard years in the making and this is what the film painstakingly and ingeniously explores.

Adapted from a novel by Upton Sinclair, "There Will Be Blood" is one of the best movies I've ever seen about the founding of America and says more in its taciturn way than "Citizen Kane" and "The Birth of a Nation" put together.

The main dramatic thrust of the story pits Plainview, a misanthropic, opportunistic but remarkably resilient entrepreneur, against the young preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) in a desolate little town that sits atop a huge oil field.

Both men lie, deceive and dissemble to obtain the power they crave, and both men represent the zealous extremes on which America was founded: capitalism and religion. Despite their ostensible differences, the two belief systems actually have a lot in common.

Words cannot convey the immensity of Daniel Day Lewis's performance. It simply has to be seen to be believed. I would be hard pressed to think of another performance to match it. But "There Will Be Blood" is nonetheless an ensemble achievement.

The sub-plots concerning Plainview's adopted son and the long-lost brother who shows up out of the blue, add brilliantly to the thematic complexity of the whole. Anderson's brilliant screenplay also makes vivid use of the linguistic flourishes of that era, such as when Plainview says with a rare smile: "Let's go and get liquored up."

Or with forthright greed: "Can everything around here be got?"

But the real secret to the film lies in the juxtaposing of oil and blood. Anderson has made a profound statement about the world as it is today, by digging deep into our unctuous past. And what he unearths is an epic tragedy, occasionally lubricated by some very black comedy.

Now showing in Estonia.
Opens Feb. 22 in Latvia.

Please enter your username and password.