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Overall Rating

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 brianorndorf

"One of the best films of 2007"
5 stars

In his five-year absence from direction, Paul Thomas Anderson hasn’t lost a beat. “There Will Be Blood” is his most grueling feature film; a punishing historical drama about the bitter rise of the oil barons, lobbing bile and rage at every hairpin turn of its 2 ½ hours. It’s not for every taste, but that doesn’t make it any less of a backhanded slap of a masterpiece.

Starting out as a silver miner at the turn of the century, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) has been struggling to make ends meet. Turing his attention to the oil deposits of California, Plainview uses his cutthroat negotiation tactics to amass a small fortune drilling the soil for liquid gold. When a tip leads Plainview and his son H.W. (Dillon Freasier) to an oil-rich ranch and surrounding area, the tycoon convinces the locals to invest in his future, leading to an arduous drilling process that divides the community into those who seek profit and those who follow the religious command of a young, demonstrative preacher named Eli Sunday (Paul Dano, “Little Miss Sunshine”).

“Blood” showcases a lifetime lost to the insatiable need for control and profit, but it’s far from a morality tale. Using Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel “Oil!” as a starter pistol, “Blood” sprints off to become its own intoxicating vision of greed; a nearly reptilian piece of cinema that crosses epic Western storytelling with powerful insular emoting. It’s unpolluted cinema from Anderson, fashioned in a way that speaks incredibly of his patience and gift for observation.

There’s no easy way to classify the “Blood” experience. It’s like being submerged in oil itself; a suffocating, chilling, slowly sinking viewing event that is spotless in execution and challenging unlike any major American motion picture this year. Following Plainview’s greasy, bitter rise to riches, Anderson is vigilant with his main character, capturing every mood and manipulation as though he was making a film about a chess master encountering his greatest opponent in the arid landscape and the dangerous attentions of Eli. Plainview is a cunning businessman with a special gift for placation, and his near silent adventure with oil (it takes 15 minutes before the first bit of dialogue is uttered), from discovery to dominance, makes up the majority of the film.

These sequences, shot with golden meticulousness by Robert Elswit, are the spirit of “Blood.” A procedural look at the process of extracting oil from the ground, the details are engrossing and equally horrifying. Seeing these men step down to the bottom of the Earth, risking their lives (and often losing them) is mesmerizing. Anderson allows for these long observational takes, spattered with disgusting black oil that covers every inch of the body, building the tension like a grand opera through feats of hazard and detonation. Boy, if you thought getting oil was tough today, “Blood” is a disturbing description of a nail-biting period of excavation.

Scored with a high-wire percussive momentum by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, “Blood” soars with the oil foraging scenes; dynamic moments of unstoppable American ego and environmental rape that are unforgettable. However, these are purely the precursor to the meat of the matter: the fuming storm that brews in Plainview’s head.

A complicated man with a concentrated distaste for others, a violent competitive streak, and a heart he can turn to stone when the moment suits him, Plainview is an extraordinary screen character with tempestuous emotional seas buried under his salt-stained hat and slimy moustache. It’s almost needless to write that Day-Lewis tears into the role with hurricane-like authority. This is not acting, folks, it’s a demonic possession.

The performances are impeccable in “Blood,” but Day-Lewis’s take on Plainview’s machinations of madness is jaw-dropping. Set aside the watertight authoritarian accent and the full-bodied metamorphosis of corruption, and there are still miles of interpretational magic to be pored over for generations to come. It’s a master class on the erosion of a soul, the actor giving in to his every impulse while Anderson’s camera sits in awe. This doesn’t feel like a performance. No artificiality to speak of. It’s Day-Lewis doing what he does best: crawling inside the skin of a character and becoming one with material.

The battle of perspectives and annoyance between Eli and Plainview eventually assumes control of “Blood.” It’s an interesting parallel Anderson investigates in his script: is there really a difference between a businessman and religious opportunist? Dano and Day-Lewis seem to be having a ball going after each other, resulting in some extreme displays of contempt. Anderson takes the conflict to its logical conclusion in a perfectly diseased cherry of a finale, but it’s a wonderful thematic tease that runs throughout the picture.

“There Will Be Blood” is such a strongly made movie that it seems almost unreal to view. To witness Anderson allowed this much breathing room to explore the degenerative effects of entrepreneurship (the venomous underbelly of the American dream) restores plenty of faith in Hollywood. This is an incomparable picture, and as demanding as it looks from the outside, it’s worth every second of your time to see filmmaking this poised and individualistic.

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originally posted: 12/29/07 05:11:54
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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
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  26-Dec-2007 (R)
  DVD: 08-Apr-2008



Directed by
  Paul Thomas Anderson

Written by
  Paul Thomas Anderson

  Daniel Day-Lewis
  Paul Dano
  Ciarán Hinds

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