Monday, January 21, 2008

There Will Be Blood (2007)

* * * * *

The acting, direction, and score of There Will Be Blood may add up to the darkest film of 2007, but it is also one of those films in which everyone involved just may have been at the top of their game. Paul Thomas Anderson, who is well-known for his film gems Boogie Nights and Magnolia, has crafted his epic, masterpiece with There Will Be Blood. Anderson loosely adapted Upton Sinclair's novel Oil from 1927 for the film which chronicles three decades of the life of oil prospector Daniel Plainview. The story explores many themes including family, capitalism, and religion and each of these is presented in the countless memorable scenes and events. From the opening sequence, Plainview is branded as a symbol of the desire, passion, cunning, and greed that is as much a part of the American dream as of the nature of man. Together Anderson and Day-Lewis, who plays Plainview, have created one of the most memorable, haunting, and disturbing characters in film history. Day-Lewis' portrayal of the oilman is astonishing and obscene and is easily the best performance of the year. If there was an award for best performance duo, Day-Lewis and Paul Dano would win hands down. The fact that Dano, who plays Reverend Eli Sunday, is even noticed alongside Day-Lewis speaks multitudes to his performance. He is the perfect counterpart to the overt menace of Daniel Plainview; Dano portrays Sunday as a man of God with the conflict of service and power running deep in his soul. His performance will surely elevate him from the unknown actor in Little Miss Sunshine to one of the most talented young actors in the business. The film pulls no punches; there is no Hollywood fluff and no rewarding plot circles. Anderson employs everything one would expect of a director of his stature; long scenes, brutally emotional dialogue, beautiful cinematography, and more than enough symbolism and allegory to keep the audience talking for days after. The biblical and historical references add layers upon layers of depth to a film which already brings so much to the table. Anderson recruited Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead to record the score, which is spot-on and adds resonance to many of the scenes. The film runs a little long at over two and a half hours, and the weight of the film will start to feel heavy on some viewers shoulders about two hours in. Like most great directors, there are a select few scenes which likely could have been more tightly edited, but remain to appease the director's vision/ego. It isn't often, though, that a combo of such powerful performances and masterful directing are brought together, and this is where the audience finds their reward. As bleak as it is brilliant, There Will Be Blood is a modern classic that is as powerful as its title alludes.

Good for: PTA fans, film fans in general, fans of epics, people who like symbolism/allegory

Bad for: people bothered by violence, people who dislike dark, long films

The Gallery
The Economist: * * * * *
The Surfer: * * * *
The Film Maker: * * * * *
The Writer * * * * *

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