Synopsis – A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business – There Will Be Blood
Director – Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring – Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds
Genre – Drama
Released – 2007
For fans of – No Country for Old Men, Gangs of New York, L.A Confidential
There is much to enjoy about There Will Be Blood. It’s a stunningly original piece of film-making centred around two explosive and intense performances from veteran Daniel Day-Lewis and a relatively fresh-faced Paul Dano. And for me, this movie marks the crowning moment in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s talented career, prompting multiple re-watches to enjoy the delicious mixture of potent subject matters from class, religion and the effect money can have on both.
This is a film that is almost unclassifiable, flirting with multiple genres, ideas and possibilities. But at heart, it’s a dramatic epic that sees the rise of oilman Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis) during the early days of the American industrial revolution. Watched in as higher definition as possible, it’s undeniable that Anderson and cinematographer Robert Elswit created a movie where the imagery is as memorable as the plot and acting, beautifully capturing a relatively barren landscape in such a way that it becomes a living breathing creature in its own right, with the oil its lifeblood and the pumps its heart.
In the role that rightfully saw him claim the Best Actor Oscar, Daniel Day-Lewis delivers one of cinema’s most rounded and fully formed acting turns Daniel Plainview. A man who gets more and more unlikeable the longer the story progresses, with the power and riches that oil brought, corrupting him to the point where the audience can no longer justifiably support his view of the world and the actions he takes.
But what makes Day-Lewis’s performance all the better is that he had a near-perfect opposite number because of the star-making turn of Paul Dano to bounce off. Dano as Eli Sunday, a man of faith who clashes with Plainview on almost everything, especially his morals, allows one of the cinema’s great and more unlikely rivalries to flourish.
I can see why There Will Be Blood might alienate some viewers with its uneasy and unnerving tone, For me, this movie is as close to perfection as you’re likely to get, taking the audience on a grand tale of the American Dream gone wrong, told in a way so skilled and nuanced that never see for a long long time, well deserving of its place on the top 100 movies and a must-see for anyone with even the slightest enjoyment of films.