THERE WILL BE BLOOD
***1/2 (out of 5)
December 26, 2007
Daniel Day-Lewis as DANIEL PLAINVIEW
Paul Dano as PAUL SUNDAY/ELI SUNDAY
Kevin J. O’Connor as HENRY BRANDS
Ciaran Hinds as FLETCHER HAMILTON
Russell Harvard as H.W. PLAINVIEW
Studio: Paramount Vantage
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
BY KEVIN CARR
Every year, there seems to be a handful of movies that are released that are deemed to be “must-see” films, by both critics and audiences. One of those films this year is Paramount Vantage’s “There Will Be Blood.”
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as an oil baron during the oil boom in Texas, this film paints greater picture of greed, vengeance and what man will do to his fellow man to get his hands on black gold. Day-Lewis is Daniel Plainview, a greedy businessman who snatched up land for oil drilling from naive farmers and other landowners.
During the course of the film, we see how Plainview’s life is transformed by his own greed. Even his own son becomes a casualty of the war to riches. While Plainview is able to offer an end-to-end solution with his wells by drilling and collecting the oil himself, he becomes so wrapped up in his own business that he leaves everyone behind.
The main conflict in the film comes between Plainview and Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), the son of a landowner who is ultimately mistrustful of Plainview. Sunday is also the head of a congregation in town, and he uses his influence as a religious leader to fight against the greedy baron.
However, like life itself, there is really no sterling good guy. No one is the perfect, untouchable moralist. Everyone in this film makes sacrifices, and their motivations are not always pristine. This is, in fact, the strongest truth behind the movie, and it’s both fascinating and uncomfortable to watch the characters unravel in their own special ways as the film goes on.
Much has been made of Day-Lewis’s performance, and he’s already gobbled up many awards with a sure-fire Oscar win in his future. However, this is to be expected from anything the guy does. By only choosing one movie every few years, and usually getting accolades from his performances, we’ve come to expect this from the actor.
Never will you see Day-Lewis showing up in the latest McG flick or some wretched Uwe Boll movie like so many other great actors. The only downside to Day-Lewis’s career is that he has set the bar so high for himself, he’s always his own worst competition.
But the real acting feat in this film comes from Paul Dano because he just comes out of nowhere to nail the part. Many might recognized him as the tall and silent Dwayne in “Little Miss Sunshine” (because I’m sure no one is remembering him as the Young Asher in “Taking Lives”), but even though he did a fine acting job in that, it’s his performance in “There Will Be Blood” that will make his career.
The mere fact that Dano is able to hold his own opposite Day-Lewis is awesome. However, at times, he almost overshadows the elder actor, and that’s an amazing thing. So often, films showcase a great actor who crushes everyone else’s performance on screen. But Dano is able to be just as compelling and interesting on screen.
Some are calling “There Will Be Blood” Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece. I wouldn’t go that far, mainly because I will always have a soft spot for “Boogie Nights.” However, it is a career-defining film, and a huge step up from lesser movies like “Magnolia” and “Punch Drunk Love.”
Ultimately, “There Will Be Blood” is front-loaded with the best moments. You won’t see better filmmaking than the first third of this film. The middle is decent, and things go absolutely nuts in the last third, but it’s a ride to experience, nonetheless.