Modern Classics - There Will Be Blood




Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano and Ciaran Hinds

It has been a long time since I reviewed a modern classic so today's effort is the 2007 Oscar nominated There Will Be Blood. This is a story about family, greed, religion and oil, centred around a turn of the century prospector in the early days of the business. Not a great deal happens in way of plot but this is definitely one of those films that showcases incredible directing and believable acting in every single frame.

It's not an easy watch. The soundtrack is almost sickening, it creates a mounting feeling of unease throughout the movie. It's almost as if Daniel Plainview becomes a high pressure canister and you spend a great deal of the movie on the edge of your seat waiting for him to lose the plot. To blow up just like the glorious oilrig explosion; and when he does eventually hit the roof, it is legendary. The beginning and the end of this movie could not be at greater odds with each other, but that's what makes There Will Be Blood so stand-out and memorable, it will linger in your thoughts for days after..

Plainview is the silver miner turned oilman, a salesman and a grafter with an insatiable desire for power. Day-Lewis' performances is theatrical but it had to take a character with that much presence to inhabit and fill the immense space this film creates. Similarly Eli Sunday is equally dramatic and charismatic for different purposes but ultimately the same reason. Eli assures a better life and redemption from hardship through religious command whereas Daniel seeks to appease the masses with capitalist promises of wealth and prosperity in this life. Although Eli's faults are nowhere in the league of Daniel's, they are both corrupt individuals whose egos are at constant loggerheads. Each man exploits the opportunity to attack whenever he has the upper hand. Their characters clash in that same way religion and capitalism do throughout the movie. Both leads are convincing and awe inspiring; it's a lethal combination. With Dano and Day-Lewis’ dominance throughout the movie, it’s like an impressive two-man-show in the middle of a desert. 

Anderson shoots brilliantly, feverish, bitter and bleakly beautiful. There Will Be Blood is up there with the best of western-set dramas along with the likes of No Country For Old Men. This is still a fresh genre with plenty of room to be intelligent, thrilling and stunning. 

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