Movie Review – There Will Be Blood
Category : Movie Review
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
In the last fifteen years, I have rated only four films as 10/10: Love Actually, WALL-E, Black Swan, and There Will Be Blood. I don’t think I’m stingy with my praise or my ratings, I’ve rated many films as 9/10, which means I absolutely loved them, but I am reluctant to go all the way. Out of every movie I have ever seen, which is about 2500 at this moment, I’ve only rated sixteen total as 10/10, and I think I know why. In order to get my perfect score, a film must be nearly perfect in execution, but it also has to touch me in the exact right way, has to make me feel something I have never felt before. Maybe that basically only happens when you’re 16-20 and you’re building your tastes alongside your friends with some of the best cinema the world has ever seen, maybe that’s the rare era that you open up your heart and let art affect you in a way it never will again. Regardless, I don’t give top rankings lightly, but There Will Be Blood is in a league completely its own, with no other word to describe it other than ‘masterpiece’.
Meet Daniel Plainview, and if he tells you he’s an oil man, you will agree, as his numerous successful wells across this great country of ours prove that he speaks correctly. He travels with his partner and son, H.W. Plainview, and the pair get the job done wherever they go. Daniel knows oil, where to find it and how to get it up, and he’s willing to cut a deal on a moment’s notice to secure himself the most money and power possible, to create an empire for his family that will shock every man who ever wanted to make a dime. That’s just the way he operates, and it has proven to work, until he runs up against a young man named Eli Sunday whose family owns a tract of land that Plainview desperately wants. Eli is the head of a local religious group, the Church of the Third Revelation, and what he says goes around town. Daniel will be forced to set aside his ego and his control in order to make a once-in-a-lifetime deal, but he is a busy man, and revenge can wait.
Paul Thomas Anderson is the goddam man, with Daniel Day-Lewis not far behind him. PTA directed Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master, Inherent Vice, and Phantom Thread; let that sink in for a second. He’s an artist beyond compare, a visionary (if that’s not too insane and grandiose a word) that we’re lucky to have making movies in our lifetime. I may claim that his prowess is dropping off slightly, that the meat of his work in the middle of his career is by far his best, but that time includes this film, so I’ll try to stay focused and not wander off into critiquing his entire filmography. So, with that in mind, There Will Be Blood is one of the handful of features that I would call perfect, or at least as close as possible, and that’s not something I state lightly.
The story is based on the book Oil! by Upton Sinclair, which is among the best you could ever hope to read. But it’s completely different from the movie; PTA only used some of the material for his film, going on in a unique direction once a few similarities were established. The rest he seemingly left up to Daniel Day-Lewis, who carried the action on his back, while the book focuses on the sons of the story, both the oil magnate’s and the farmer’s. DDL has never been better, and while he has been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar six times, with three wins, I think this one was his most deserved (although I’ll always be personally partial to his performance as Hawkeye in The Last of Mohicans). But it wasn’t just he who soared in this picture; Paul Dano is awesome, the score is incredible, the period is perfectly captured, the patience the plot exhibits is amazing, and the cinematography (which won an Oscar) is mind-blowing, with so many still shots to choose from that I could hardly set up this review. I hadn’t revisited There Will Be Blood in a few years; I’m not sure I appreciated it enough the first times around, which I feel like I need to make up for now. It is magnificent beyond the recycled words I can think of to describe it, so excellent that I don’t think I’ll ever get enough.
My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆