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"There Will Be Blood" film review
Paul Thomas Anderson
"There Will Be Blood"
"There Will Be Blood" is an unforgettable movie about a riveting and ruthless oil man in the turn-of-the-century California oil boom. This character was played superlatively by Daniel Day-Lewis a British actor noted for picking his roles very carefully and putting everything he has into them. He previously won a best actor Oscar for his lead role in "My Left Foot." The movie was based loosely on muckraker Upton Sinclair's book, "Oil." Thirty-seven-year-old director, Paul Thomas Anderson, also distinguished himself again with this memorable movie, his fifth.
The Daniel Day-Lewis character, Daniel Plainview, is a shrewd, ambitious and ruthless wildcatter who let nothing and no one stand in the way of his success in finding and exploiting oil in the California boom. His indelible character rivals that of Orson Welles's Kane, Brando's Kurtz or Gregory Peck's Ahab. A Paul Thomas Anderson-Daniel Day-Lewis remake might well surpass John Huston-Gregory Peck's classic "Moby Dick."
I liked just about everything about the movie, especially the stunning cinematography, the incredible oil rig and turn-of-the-century California sets which must have cost a bundle. Some found the score a bit overpowering, but I liked it.
"There Will Be Blood" invites comparison with two other 2007 movie explorations of evil--"No Coutry for Old Men" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." Of the three my favorite is "Before the Devil" because the main character and Paul Seymour Hoffman's portrayal are more nuanced than either Bardem's bogey man character in "No Country for Old Men" or Daniel Plainview. Plainview, Kurtz, Kane and Ahab are archetypes not likely to to be encountered next door or around the corner in the neighborhood. In contrast, Lumet's Philip Seymour Hoffman character in "Before the Devil" is a character that could be a member of your church congregation, sailing club or town treasurer--the kind of individual one reads about every day in the local newspaper, an ordinary citizen who is discovered to be embezzling church funds or doing some other evil deed to feed a gambling or drug habit. Paul Thomas Anderson will be a great director some day, but he's not yet the equal of Sidney Lumet at age 83.
"There Will Be Blood" or "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" are two of the best movies of 2007. Both will be strong contenders for the best actor, best director and other Academy Award categories. Evangelical Bush Republicans are not likely to be fond ot "There Will Be Blood's" unflattering depiction of an unscrupulous evangelist preacher and the ruthless oil man. "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose."