There Will Be Blood
There Will Be Blood is an American Masterpiece
I have read many reviews of this film and not a one has come close to describing it. They can't. This is a movie that has to be seen, thought about, digested, and then you should see it again. It is an American Masterpiece.
Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a determined man, trying his hand, mining for silver deep in a hole in the late 1800s. He wields his pick viciously at the stones below. He breaks an ankle, falling down the makeshift ladder, and still forges on. He makes a living mining, but one day, he hits oil. Now, with some help he has hired, Plainview will strike it rich with his new find. He has no family, no history, no need for anyone; just a thirst to find the oil, get it off the ground and make lots of money. He is a machine of gargantuan proportions and a fucking nasty over the top drunk, who steamrolls anyone in his path.
It certainly makes him a perfect businessman. As Plainview's perseverance and balls led him to oil, he takes that same gusto in finding new wells to suck out of the ground and it's owners dry. Plainview and his men find more and more, and he begins to make money.
After a drilling accident kills one of Plainview's workers, he decides to adopt the dead man's child and raise him on his own. He names him HW (Dillon Freasier) and he is by his side, as Daniel wheels and deals people from their land for short money, to get to the oil that lies below that they are in most cases, not aware of. It is a very particular scene as HW stands next to Plainview as he tries to outsmart poor landowners out of their property, promising them wealth in their little patch of dirt. HW is stoic and haunting, and after an accident that leaves him deaf, even more so.
One day, on one of his sites, Plainview is visited by a young fellow Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) who says that his family farm, back in New Boston, California has huge amounts of oil under it, unbeknownst to the father. If Plainview pays Paul a fee, he will tell him where it is. Plainview pays Paul the money, so off HW and Daniel go to the Sunday ranch, pretending to hunt for quail, but really scouting the area to see if Paul was right about the oil. He was.
They are invited to dinner by the Sundays, and once they finish, Plainview tells the father Abel (David Willis) he wants to buy the land because the air is good for his son. Also at the table is Paul's twin brother, Eli Sunday, (both played rather creepily by the excellent Paul Dano), who has high hopes of building a church with the money that his family will get from the sale of the Sunday Ranch. Eli Knows what Plainview is up to and Plainview knows what Sunday is also. It is a battle of two power hungry shysters. One who tries to hide it to get his way, and the other who thinks he is entitled to it. Begrudgingly, Daniel, who hates Eli, more than most, promises that the first road built in the dirt town will indeed lead to his new church. As workers pour in and set up camp, Plainview's first derrick produces oil and now he starts to gobble up all the surrounding land to run a pipeline to the ocean, beating his big-time oil competitors who are on his tail. He promises the town new wealth and snubs Eli every chance he can, who is recruiting some of Plainview's new workers to his church.This pisses Daniel off to no ends.
HW Strikes up a friendship with Eli's little sister Mary (Sydney McCallister) whom Abel beats for not praying. When Daniel learns of this, his anger for Eli grows. Daniel has little time for people at all, although he does seem to have a bit of a heart for the children like the beaten Mary, and his connection with HW and the way he talks to him as an advisor, is almost sweet. When a derrick accident leaves HW deaf, Daniel frustrated, sends him off to a school for the deaf. This Infuriates HW, and their relationship changes from then on.
With HW gone, Daniel goes full force ahead. His hatred for Eli grows as his parish of worshipers watch in awe as he takes Satan out of members of the flock to save them. When a stranger appears one day, claiming to be his half-brother Henry (Kevin O'Connor). He seems to indeed know a lot about Daniel's past, and they become friends. Henry advises Daniel at his meetings. One scene with a competitor who wants to buy his business, suggesting that Daniel spend more time with his deaf son, simmers and builds into an unforgettable moment in cinema.
This is a movie that exists on another level of filmmaking, and that it was written and directed by the great, and still young (Paul Thomas Anderson) who made Boogie Nights and Magnolia, should fill all you movie lovers with hope. This is a tricky thing he does here. He has crafted a period tale of morality with a character who has no real redeeming qualities other than his unflinching urge to move up and over people. Yet, it is fascinating to watch.
The power struggle between these two rather unlikable men is the heart of this great film by Anderson. Day-Lewis has channeled John Huston’s voice, with the soul of the Devil himself, to play this unforgettable character. I think it is one of the greatest performances by an actor in the history of American film. To say that he inhabits this character wholly is an understatement. Every line is delivered like the veins in his head are about to explode. It is mesmerizing. Dano plays second fiddle, but is well up to the task, playing off with what this great actor is doing perfectly. The cinematography is grand and somber as the landscape is another character in the film. The industrial age is beginning; the first spring of black gold, building new machines, jobs, and towns. The completely brilliant score by Radiohead’s (Jonny Greenwood) catapults this movie to another level of cinema. It is haunting. It is a perfect mix of an original filmmaker and composer.
There Will Be Blood, and you should see this great movie.