Wednesday, January 30, 2008

There Will Be Blood (2007) Film Review

After having seen THERE WILL BE BLOOD, I can't really tell you what it's about. I mean, I can sit here and presume to know what it was about, but I can't be sure. I think it had something to do with the main character's unquenchable thirst for success over his enemies, no matter the cost, but I'm probably wrong.

What I do know about the movie is that it's chock full of brilliant set pieces, landscapes, cinematography, and acting. There were moments scattered throughout the flick that were so breathtaking to watch, they gave me goosebumps. Scenes like the opener, where we see Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) mining away in the middle of nowhere for gold. The entire scene is completely scoreless--it's just him, us, and the mine. The moments that followed set the tone for the rest of the movie, which means it's pretty clear within the first five minutes whether you're the sort of person that'll be along for the ride, or ready to hope off. If you're apart of the latter don't feel bad as I'd imagine you're in the majority. The entire style in which director Paul Thomas Anderson takes in making this movie is one only critics and film buffs seem to appreciate. There's little narrative, more slice of life, and tons of quiet--almost subliminal--character development. If that doesn't sound like your sort of show, I beg you to do yourself a favor and find something else to occupy your hours. I won't think any less of you, promise.

The story is as follows: Plainview hits it rich after successfully harvesting a goldmine, at the near expense of his life. Using his newfound riches, he starts an oil mining company. Along the way he adopts the child of one of his men after he is killed in a horrific mining accident, raising it as his own. We then follow him to a small town called Little Boston, where he takes the town under his wing, modernizes it as best a turn of the century old west town could be modernized, and ultimately feuds with that towns Jimmy Swaggart in training, Eli (Paul Dano). We catch glimpses into what makes Plainview the man he is--from his sincere, no nonsense "If I say I'm an oilman..." pitches, to his ability to genuinely love someone, yet cut them loose if they get in the way of his work. He's a lonely, enigmatic man whose sole purpose in life is to win, period.

Anderson really seems to be strutting his filmmaking tail feathers here, picking a book that he can adapt to screen, strictly so he can set up interesting shots and set pieces. The intricate detail that went into creating the growing town of Little Boston, and the oil wells that would spring up around it is nothing short of amazing. I believe this is probably why a regular schmo like I had such a difficult time following the story--Anderson purposefully overlooked portions of the story in favor of the visuals. And while Anderson was off building life size old school oil dereks that he could set on fire, Day-Lewis was allowed to stretch his legs and really dig deep under the skin of his character. It's as if the people running the asylum went nuts, and started creating this fascinating piece of organized chaos.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD is most definitely a guy movie, though it won't be for every guy. The film appeals to the much smaller group of patient guy movie lovers--of which there are not many. In the end, it's all about one man's war against the world; the endless competition within himself to never let anyone else beat him. It's about the dangers of having so much raw inner strength, will, and conviction, it corrupts the soul, and prevents you from taking joy in anything. This was a solid, solid movie.

"My son, H.W. and I are here for one thing, and one thing only... drink your milkshake. TO DRINK IT UP!"

ABNB! Rating: 4 out of 5 (I loved it, but you might not. If you've got the patience, and are willing to think, more power to you, my brother.)
For More Info:
IMDb / Rotten Tomatoes / Wikipedia / Official Site

Fun FAQ-toid: Why are Paul and Eli Sunday played by the same actor?
Paul Dano was originally casted as Paul Sunday only and when the original actor playing Eli Sunday left, Dano was cast. At that point, it was too late to re-shoot the scene with Paul Sunday so the film plays out that Paul is Eli's identical twin. Paul Dano stated to an NPR interviewer that he had less than a week to prepare for the role of Eli.

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