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Overall Rating
4.23

Awesome64.08%
Worth A Look: 17.48%
Average: 4.85%
Pretty Bad: 4.85%
Total Crap: 8.74%

7 reviews, 61 user ratings


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There Will Be Blood
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by Rob Gonsalves

"I'd expected an overblown fiasco. Glad to be proven wrong."
5 stars

As someone who, in the past, has felt that the epic ambition of the writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson has gotten the better of him, I was prepared to cringe throughout his latest saga, the much-heralded "There Will Be Blood." But this job is full of surprises, and so, it turns out, is Anderson.

With any luck, this may be the movie that turns it around for the formerly irrepressible and derivative director, with his past slavish tips of the hat to Altman and Scorsese and every other major director of the ‘70s. Whatever else it is or isn’t, There Will Be Blood is an original, and a major, confident step forward. Maybe Anderson needed to get movies like Boogie Nights and Magnolia (I’m aware those films have their passionate fans) out of his system before he could do pure work like this.

For a long stretch at the beginning, there’s no dialogue at all as the tragic protagonist Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) digs for silver and then for oil. The sequences have the bold simplicity of silent filmmaking (although Jonny Greenwood’s cacophonous score is a bit too jarring in spots). Plainview is a man of few words, except when he’s trying to get California rubes to sell their land so he can drill on it. Day-Lewis has adopted the gruff, elongated vowels of John Huston, with maybe a hint of Nixon. He squints his eyes, and his mouth is hidden by a mustache, yet this could be his most expressive performance since My Left Foot. Plainview feels in every way like a turn-of-the-century man (the movie starts in 1898) driven to the far edges of callousness by the pursuit of the American dream.

For much of the film, Plainview’s nemesis is Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), a baby-faced country preacher who claims to be able to drive demons (such as the demon of arthritis) out of his congregation. Plainview’s expression when he drops in on Eli’s sermon conveys a grudging regard for a fellow charlatan. Later on, when Plainview must kneel and denounce himself before God (and before Eli’s church) in order to secure a crucial pipeline, Dano and Day-Lewis turn the scene into a classic duet of loathing. Forced to own up to abandoning his adopted young son after a drilling mishap that deafened the boy, Plainview burns through his shame into a bitter gaiety, parodying the spiritual revelation he’s supposed to be having. Capitalism versus faith, with flim-flammery on both sides, becomes the central conflict in There Will Be Blood.

There’s no conflict in Plainview, though. Photographed in front of one gorgeous landscape after another, he can see them only as a help or a hindrance to his goal. This epic has been constructed around a hollow man, though Day-Lewis infuses him with enough flashes of self-awareness to fill in the blanks. Anderson has taken Upton Sinclair’s energetic, wide-ranging novel Oil! and turned it into a meditation on a monster. Throughout the generous length of the film, Plainview falls away from redemption little by little, until finally, in his vast home containing its own bowling alley, he’s twisted and hunched over like a drunken Richard III. The degenerative portrait is complete. “I am the third revelation!” bellows Plainview; he’s either blaspheming or finally telling the truth.

Anderson has learned patience; he’s also learned how to make a movie flow without depending too heavily on popular songs (and none of his usual stable of performers are in his corner here, either). He’s a born-again poet, telling a story straight, with minimal ornamentation and occasional bursts of strangeness only when needed. In Anderson’s debut Hard Eight, he focused on one man, Philip Baker Hall’s Sydney, and his relationship with a younger gambler (John C. Reilly). There Will Be Blood continues Anderson’s preoccupation with corrupt father figures while returning him to what, it turns out, he does best.

Anderson may have had fun making panoramic group portraits like "Magnolia," but when he calms down and drills into one subject, rather than flitting from character to character like an overcaffeinated butler at a dinner party, he can dig deep and strike oil.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=16674&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/05/08 15:29:27
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2007 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2007 series, click here.

User Comments

6/19/15 stanley welles a towering, tour de-force display in cinematic virtuosity 5 stars
12/09/12 Simon sprawling, an art piece, an acting tour-de-force, all the nuance&power a modern movie can b 5 stars
3/29/11 lesterwink23 Spectacular...DDL's Plainview belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of film performances 5 stars
2/21/11 Bert What an awful movie. 1 stars
7/16/10 ES Ugh... this started off so good and went to crap so fast. What a disappointment 2 stars
4/09/10 brian I wanted to take my eyes off of it but couldn't. Day-Lewis is great, as always. 4 stars
3/16/10 king kong a truly awesome film 5 stars
12/16/09 girl there will be milkshakes 5 stars
11/29/09 Jeff Wilder Day-Lewis is superb and the film is well-made. Easy movie to admire but a hard one to love. 4 stars
3/03/09 Sully epic 5 stars
2/24/09 Anonymous. this movie is crazy great. 5 stars
2/09/09 Samantha Pruitt really great acting, slow and builds up at the end! 4 stars
1/31/09 D Every single frame is mesmerizing....incredible work of art 5 stars
1/08/09 Haley Leggitt the comment under mine is dead wrong. this was an incredible film. 5 stars
12/07/08 Jack Sommersby Contextless, dramatically-obvious & laughably self-indulgent. 1 stars
12/05/08 K. Sear Phenomenally fractured. 3 stars
11/05/08 Lindsey worth more than just a watch. more like a few watches. :] 5 stars
9/18/08 Phil I. Drink. Your. Milkshake! 4 stars
8/29/08 Shaun Wallner The storyline is well made! 4 stars
6/09/08 AnnieG Perhaps better if you had read the book, but film is almost all atmosphere 2 stars
5/14/08 allen good movie 4 stars
5/06/08 S. K. Marion A briliantly acted/directed/scored morality play-A Greed driven Cain kills Abel again! 4 stars
5/04/08 Justin I think you need to apologise to PTA 5 stars
4/18/08 The Talking Elbow Really overrated but worth watching 3 stars
4/18/08 Krystyna The first guy who reviewed this movie said it better than anyone: "THIS FILM BLOWS" 1 stars
4/17/08 styace dumb ending or maybe i just dont get it? 4 stars
4/13/08 Gr As the Ratings Say - 4 stars = worth a watch 4 stars
4/04/08 Greets A solid, accomplished film, yet lacking a certain something... 4 stars
3/21/08 niki greatness allready had a name: PTA & DDL, now add to that list: TWBB.More power to it! 5 stars
3/18/08 Muralee Thummarukudy I feel sick reading this review. I saw this movie, which was so slow and stupid. 1 stars
3/17/08 damalc mostly boring except for Day-Lewis, brilliant as usual 3 stars
3/17/08 Danny Maybe the worst film ending of all time! 2 stars
3/14/08 Random Plainview's outburst of violence set against the Brahms Violin Concerto was haunting. 4 stars
3/03/08 ladavies this movie could have been a classic. it has some overacting and script issues. 4 stars
3/01/08 Catherine HERVIEU Great settings, atmosphere, acting even if Daniel is a bit overacting , the story plot is 4 stars
2/29/08 Monday Morning Big but slow 3 stars
2/18/08 Greg This movie is unbelievably over-rated. I really can't believe all the good press! 1 stars
2/15/08 Joe Too bad there was no story. found oil, bought land, got old, killed a guy, The End 2 stars
2/14/08 Jefenator The epilogue was melodramatic and redundant. But the first 3/4 was tight and DDL was superb 4 stars
2/11/08 zenshark Who knew they still made movies like this? 5 stars
2/07/08 R.W.Welch Maybe the best one-man show since Patton. Pacing a tad deliberate. 4 stars
2/06/08 Marge Plainview is the devil incaarnate. Lewis is a genius. 5 stars
2/05/08 Paul Shortt Exquisite motion picture 5 stars
2/04/08 Lone Wolf Most powerful movie of my lifetime. Left me completely drained. Draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaainge! 5 stars
2/02/08 Daniel Plainview This movie drinks your milkshake. 5 stars
2/02/08 Quigley Great acting by Lewis and superb direction by Anderson but it didn't have enough of a story 4 stars
1/26/08 proper amateur film critic A brilliantly and technically marvellous movie 5 stars
1/26/08 zanna If you didn't like, you're braindead 5 stars
1/25/08 Ramzi Abed Truly awe-inspiring. Worthy of all the praise. Anderson should win an Oscar for directing! 5 stars
1/23/08 b bobble genious, beatiful, orighinal, etc..... 5 stars
1/22/08 Ole Man Bourbon Entertaining movie. It's very figurative, which can be challenging, but it adds to the fun 4 stars
1/21/08 Servo I was blown away by Lewis' performance, the movie itself ... not so much. 3 stars
1/19/08 Mike Wow! Brilliant movie! 5 stars
1/18/08 Freddy SUCKS! What a waste of time! 1 stars
1/17/08 Buttley Brillant. 5 stars
1/14/08 jim SUX 1 stars
1/13/08 curtis this picture assembly is a mess, beautiful in spots, a la Cold Mountain and Gangs of NY etc 2 stars
1/12/08 peter not a real character in it. horrible. praise is "the emperor's new clothes" 1 stars
1/05/08 jordan actually fred you're wrong, this movie is incredible. great review. 5 stars
12/31/07 wabster this movie lacks a "message" in terms of reality. in other words, it 's not meaningful 4 stars
12/30/07 fred g. sanford this film blows 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Dec-2007 (R)
  DVD: 08-Apr-2008

UK
  08-Feb-2008

Australia
  01-Jan-2008


Directed by
  Paul Thomas Anderson

Written by
  Paul Thomas Anderson

Cast
  Daniel Day-Lewis
  Paul Dano
  Ciarán Hinds



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