There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood (2007) — The film opens with a sucker punch of great film-making with about 15 minutes of wordless exposition. It just gets better from there. While Paul Thomas Anderson’s earlier films like Boogie Nights and Magnolia were about large ensemble casts, There Will Be Blood focuses mainly on one man. One hell of an actor is needed for a role like that, so Anderson went and got one: Daniel Day-Lewis. In the role of oilman Daniel Plainview, Day-Lewis is a force of nature. Paul Dano plays the primary antagonist of the film, a slimy preacher named Eli Sunday (Dano also has a small role as Eli’s brother Paul). Their escalating confrontations are executed amazingly by the actors. The main interesting relationship in the movie is between Daniel and his adopted son H.W. (Dillon Freasier). Daniel is by his own admission a misanthrope and doesn’t seem the sort even capable of love but there is an odd sort of bond he seems to have with the boy. Is it affectation for the sake of his prosperity (having a “family business” helps win him some lucrative contracts) or is there genuine affection there? The movie is scored by Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead. The music (mostly string quartet) sets an unnerving tone. This is one of those movies that doesn’t especially fit into a viewer’s notions of what it should be, but there is a masterful hand at work in this film. A very loose adaptation of an Upton Sinclair novel (Oil!), one might expect this film to be just another period drama (or, being by Sinclair, a call to socialism) but in the hands of P.T. Anderson it ends up being something much better.

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