This movie is superb on many levels. If it weren’t for “No Country for Old Men” being released at almost the same time, “There Will Be Blood” would have probably swept the Academy Awards. Daniel Day Lewis deservedly won best actor for his spellbinding performance as Daniel Plainview, and Robert Elswit also got a nod for best Cinematography. Johnny Greenwood should have won for best film score, but was disqualified from a nomination on a lame technicality. Speaking of the amazing score, here’s a fun exercise to try out at home(especially if you’ve never seen the movie). Watch the first ten minutes of the film on mute. Then go back at watch it with sound. There is absolutely no dialogue, just a staggeringly ominous score to set the mood. And the only sounds we hear are exactly the ones Plainview would have experienced. The barren solitude of an isolated man in the desert, and his burning passion for the acquisition of power and wealth at any cost. The opening scene is just fantastic filmmaking. It’s this up close and personal quiet time with characters, that has become a hallmark of Paul Thomas Anderson’s genius. Using no words, in one scene, PTA can give an audience more insight to a character than most filmmakers can muster in 2 and a half hours of blunt dialogue.
Daniel Day Lewis reflects a character in such an intricately detailed and genuine manner, that it makes me question whether or not he’s entirely human. People are supposed to be fallible. His performance is flawless. One of the main values that movies provide is that they serve as an escape. When filmmakers and actors can make you accept what you are watching as reality, the illusion is complete, and real emotional responses from the viewer can occur. While this movie didn’t really provoke too much emotion from me, it did make me feel like I was watching late 19th century reality.
It is a compelling storyline driven by the metamorphosis of a complex and twisted character in Daniel Plainview. One of my favorite moments in the film is when Daniel definitively chooses running to save his oil rig over continuing to watch over his injured son. Spattered in oil, firelight beaming on his face, this catalyst moment is one that resonates with me whenever I think about TWBB.
Pretty much every scene Lewis shares with Paul Dano is thoroughly entertaining. Paul is intensely amazing as Paul/Eli Sunday. Their back and forth as personifications of the two things that bother me most in America(Greed and Religion) build to a crescendo, where the ending is a spectacular delivery or the title’s promise. There’s really not much more I can say that wouldn’t be simply reiterating how fantastic a film this is. So, I’ll just end with the words of Mr. Plainview : “I’m Finished”.
Overall Rating : 10/10