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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 Lybarger

"It gives new meaning to the term ‘dirty business.’"
5 stars

Daniel Plainview, the mesmerizingly amoral protagonist of ‘There Will Be Blood,’ will do just about anything to acquire oil and the income it generates. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (‘Magnolia’), likewise, is willing to track him to depths of depravity that might seem less than human. If you’re not turned off by how low Plainview can sink or how diligently Anderson covers his descent, ‘There Will Be Blood’ winds up revealing a warts-and-all beauty that no skin medicine should ever be allowed to remedy.

As played by a towering Daniel Day-Lewis (“Gangs of New York”), Plainview is an eternally lonely man who can glad hand effortlessly while he claims to be speaking plainly. If he did speak plainly, the listeners would certainly not like the misanthropic sentiments they’d hear. He gleefully talks to everyone but confides only to people he considers family, like his lost brother Henry (Kevin J. O’Connor). And even these folks should watch their backs.

In adapting Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil!, Anderson and Day-Lewis depict Plainview with a surprisingly effective balance of horror and affection. In the early portions of the film, viewers see how hard Plainview and his accomplices toiled to pull petroleum from the earth.

Plainview nearly dies prospecting in the late 19th century and later adopts his subordinate’s son H.W. (Dillon Freasier) when the lad’s father dies in an accident.

A few years later H.W. becomes his partner in crime, helping his father swindle residents out of the value of their land. To be fair, Plainview has trouble gaining the true value for his product as well. The major companies like Standard Oil and the railroads are happy to eat up much of the oil revenue through distribution costs.

He also has to contend with a charismatic preacher named Eli Sunday (Paul Dano, “Little Miss Sunshine”) who occasionally gets between Plainview and the pipeline he wants to build in order to take his product directly to his customers. Eli’s cherubic face and dynamic sermons leave Plainview envious of his technique and popularity. It also gradually becomes clear that neither man is all that virtuous.

On paper, Plainview’s rise from prospector to oil baron is simple, but Anderson makes it compelling by immersing the viewer in Plainview’s world. As rigs go up, it’s rather shocking to think that folks used to make oil wells out of flammable wood. It makes the path that gasoline took to get in your tank seem not so smooth.

You get a sense that Plainview might not have survived, much less thrived, if he hadn’t have been duplicitous. That doesn’t make his outrages any less disturbing. Day-Lewis plays Plainview as a man whose heart is pitch black but still beats. Even though he’s eager to one-up his competitors, he can still feel pain when he’s betrayed.

There’s an astonishing scene where Plainview wordlessly bonds with an infant H.W. Anderson manages to capture the sequence in a long, wide take. If you’ve even tried to get a toddler to sit still, you can appreciate how difficult this scene might have been to film.

Like Plainview, Anderson is eager to tell his story his own way. Like his hero Robert Altman, he puts up obstacles that will frustrate any viewer who isn’t willing to play close attention. For the first several minutes, not a single word is uttered. The first ten years of the tale go by through a series of sequences that indicate how hazardous the oil trade was in the early days of the 20th century.

As the film progresses, the Anderson’s technical bravado seems self-consciousness and more natural and fitting. The droning, dissonant score by Radiohead veteran Jonny Greenwood is off-putting at first, but it fits cinematographer Robert Elswit’s gritty images perfectly.

Upton Sinclair wrote Oil! as a critique of capitalism in the wake of the Teapot Dome Oil scandal. “There Will Be Blood,” however, is not simply an attack on corporate greed and worker exploitation. Plainview is intriguing because of the way he claws to stay alive, but his transgressions are no less heinous. While Day-Lewis plays him with a galvanizing larger-than-life swagger, his foibles are still human and may sadly be universal.

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originally posted: 12/26/07 22:00:00
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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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