Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Script: Paul Thomas Anderson, based on the book Oil!
Movie genre: Drama, tragedy
Rated: R, for scenes of violence
Unbridled ambition is the theme of the new film from director Paul Thomas Anderson. But this theme isn’t just found in the movie’s plot, but also in the way the film was shot, in its at times excessive script, its terrifying music (courtesy of Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood), and the melodramatic acting of the main character, played by Daniel Day-Lewis.
There Will be Blood is too ambitious of a film and, therefore, dangerous. But it’s put together well, and even though it constantly walks the thin line between being excellent and pretentious, it doesn’t once fall on the wrong side.
The director’s résumé alone – which boasts contemporary dramas of epic proportions like Magnolia and Boogie Nights – was hint enough that the film would be an interesting cinematic exercise.
The movie takes place during the early 1900s and presents the story of a small California town, the achievements of a man who expropriates oil to get rich and poses as a noble savior who’s come to make the lives of the townspeople better.
With few characters and a desolate backdrop, the film has the feel of a Western, but this movie was made by a director who made a rain shower of frogs solve his characters’ problems (Magnolia), so don’t expect your typical Western. Seeing There Will Be Blood is an extremely strange and exciting movie-going experience, made possible by ultra-stylized cinematography, along with a contemporary and musically-styled score the likes of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, but with chords you’ve never heard before.
it should be mentioned that Day-Lewis’s performance is incredibly intense, so much so that the viewer sympathizes with him despite his defects, like the greed that rots his soul. The film itself has the mesmerizing effect of a hypnotic spiritual leader.
The plot is simple: Day-Lewis wants to get rich off oil at the cost of an entire town, and his only enemy is a pastor (Paul Dano) who, like him, wants money for self-interested reasons, and exploits the church to do so. There is no battle between good and evil; there are no moral characters, only immoral ones. And the final scene between the pastor and Day-Lewis is so operatic, you’ll think it came straight from a chapter of Genesis in the Bible.