Posted on 9/23/10 07:50 AM
Initial score: 10
-This is what you get when you combine an ambitious director with an even more ambitious script, Paul Thomas Anderson is at his best yet continuing to show characters who exist to be watched in their natural environment, mastering it for our entertainment or in this case horror. I didn't know what to expect going in but now that I've seen it I'm still left with a sense of awe thanks to the absolitely abosorbing performance of Daniel Day-Lewis which is one of the best I've ever seen. Because of him There will Be Blood is both an intimate meditation on man's greed and an epic struggle between opposing forces vieing for total control.
-The plot starts out simple enough; a man goes into the oil drilling business and wants to be rich but as the film progresses the story, characters, and scope of everything matures like a cub into full grown lion before our eyes. Daniel Plainview ( Daniel Day-Lewis) by chance assumes control of a well off oil company, a son whom he uses to perpetuate his wealth, and a tip on where to find more oil so it seems destiny is more then willing to line his pockets. At first I thought Daniel Plainview was a good man with some inner demons because he like all manipulators is convincing in the diabolical sense he even seems to have a genuine love for his son, however shortly after he meets Eli for the first time it becomes clear this is a man who wants money and no one is going to get in his way. Everything else is just a facade to hide his true nature and further his only goal because above all else TWBB is a character study into a man who doesn't know the meaning of enough or too much, someone whom I assume the Bible would agree personifies the deadly sin of greed. I suspect Daniel Plainview and Gordon Gekko would be great drinking buddies.
-At one point Daniel promises to let Eli the priest of the chruch of the third revelation bless the first drilling yet when the moment arrives he gives the honor to his younger sister as an unspoken but blatent display of power and warning to Eli that he should tread lightly. This is where the cold war first sparks up and as the story progresses so do the stakes and heat of their conflicts. Daniel's only goal in life is to get rich and this new town he settles in is nothing more then a stepping stone on his way but buried underneath his greed he's very insecure evidenced by Daniel showing off his power every chance he gets. He doesn't just want money because it's a symbol of power and happiness to him he wants everyone to see how wealthy he is. While Daniel exploits the locals for his own financial gain Eli does the same to Daniel though under the guise of church donations.
-Eli is just as ruthless as Daniel however, he sees religion as the ultimate form of control and even so Eli is a true believer in a higher power which is what fuels the mostly bloodless conflict because Daniel believes in nothing but himself he doesn't think God or anyone else will be of use to him and see's Eli's faith as a critical weakness of character and conviction. A cursory glance at TWBB makes one believe the central theme is greed and desire for control and while that's certainly true a deeper look yeilds a more subtle and grandiose conflict between man and religion. TWBB depicts the 2 as enemies not companions and it's up to the viwer to sort out who's right or wrong.
-Something I noticed early on was how the music is so appropriately haunting and overpowering, I loved the orchestral score it simply fit right and elevated the mood but as imposing as the score there's a tight restraint as to not upstage the content of what's happening. Johnny Greenwood picks the perfect sound to evoke the same feeling the barren yet beautiful visuals from cinematographer Robert Elswit so. There isn't a moment in it's 158 minutes that the audio and visuals are out of sync.
-DDL's performance was simply amazing and no one else could have done it as well, I've always been a big fan but this is his him at his finest acting doesn't get much better then this. Such a story demands a commanding, over powering charisma who doesn't need to do so much as lift a finger to project an aura of a unimaginable evil beneath the surface, DDL chose correctly in playing Daniel as a monster in human skin. Paul Dano also put on a noteworthy performance and provides as a formidable opponent to the indomitable Daniel Plainview I almost expected a boxing ring to drop in any second. Eli isn't nearly the tryant Daniel is but he stands his ground and schemes to further his goal in a way that suggests he and Daniel think alike.
-Some have criticized ending for not making sensebut to those viewers I say the ending is the culmination of Daniel's efforts to achieve his goal in an appropriate fashion fitting the intensity of his character. Several times throughout the movie he could have been more considerate and yet his own hyper competitive compulsion forced him to not just ignore the kindness of others but go out of his way to dominate and to beat his chest and claim his superiority. Usually a character ignoring the tell tale signs of imminent defeat lead to exactly that but instead Daniel seemingly succeeds and gains everything he ever wanted; riches, and yet there's something unexplainable missing.
-TWBB burdens itself with a lot but instead of crumbling under the weight of it's own vision it focuses the grandiose scope of the story on Plainview. The film was either too entertaining for me to notice or it wasn't too slowly paced as I've heard it was no scene felt like it overstayed it's welcome and I appreciate a director who can make a grand tale not feel heavy handed. There is some ambiguity like why Daniel's son started the fire, why Daniel wasn't more suspicious of a certain character, and of course the abruptness of the final scene but all of this serves to enhance the movie by being left unanswered there is no clear cut ending to the story of a man who is not a man but greed incarnate. Simply put this is what happens when a great story telling meets great acting I have no complaints here.
Repeat Viewing Score: 10