Reviews

There Will Be Blood

Ghoulardi Film Company/Paramount Vantage

Mark Haddon

"It’s oil that provides Plainview’s meal ticket. Along with a young orphan, the budding petroleum entrepreneur constructs the facade of a family business. Then he gets a tip about an untapped source in a small California town. Plainview strikes black gold in a big way, while an accident and the local Holy Roller evangelist threaten his derrick-dotted Eden."

David Fear, Time Out New York

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Having recently watched Best Picture 'No Country for Old Men' and finding it an enjoyable, if not 'different' experience, we thought we'd continue our critically-acclaimed-film-fest by treating ourselves to a night out watching Oscar® Actor in a Leading Role winner Daniel Day-Lewis in 'There Will Be Blood'.

The film opens looking back on Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis) in his early days digging for silver in 1898. We jump forward a few years as his mining work evolves quite significantly to digging for oil across the state, with his adopted son, HW, in tow. We watch his obsession with oil grow as he buys up a significant amount of land in one of the southern states to drain the land of its oil reserves. It is at this point that Plainview meets his nemesis, not in the form of competitors in the oil market, but an evangelical son of one of the landowners, Eli Sunday (Paul Dano, below left), whose lease Plainview has obtained to drill oil on his land.

It is this involvement with religion and the sudden arrival of a supposed half-brother which causes Plainview to reveal that his fault is he doesn't like to see anyone succeed. When he discovers that the half-brother is in fact unrelated he is dispatched through the aid of a small revolver and buried in the oil-rich land. Indeed, when his son marries and identifies his desire to drill for oil himself, Plainview immediately disowns him, branding him his competitor rather than his son.

This film's power lies in the emotions felt by Plainview throughout; ambition, greed, love and hate amongst others. Although a 15-certified film in the UK, there is not a significant amount of violence. My only slight concern was the revengeful action against Sunday, which is rather unjustified and doesn't particularly aid our understanding of the protagonist. 

Whilst watching the film I wasn't overly sure where it was going. And having watched the film, I'm still not quite sure I know where it was trying to go. It makes clear points about the fickle nature of religion and the greed for the commodity that is oil; however, the main take-away from this film is the extremely realistic portrayal of Plainview by Daniel Day-Lewis. And, ultimately, the recognition that Daniel Day-Lewis probably does deserve his Oscar® for which this film will now remain infamous.

 

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Reviewed on 09/03/2008 by Sam

 

Reviewed item details

OSCAR(S)® is the registered trademark, and the OSCAR® statuette the copyrighted property, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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