One of the best films of the last 20 years and firmly in my all time top ten, THERE WILL BE BLOOD is a brooding, riveting masterpiece.
Daniel Day Lewis is brilliant as prospector Daniel Plainview, carving out a life in the late 1800's.
As the film opens, Plainview is on his own, in the middle of nowhere, deep in a mine he has carved himself.
The film drags you down in the hole with him, thrust further into the dark by Jonny Greenwood's eerie and powerful first movie score.
Reminiscent of the classical music used by Kubrick in 2001, but twisted with modern elements all its own, Greenwood's music is incredibly good, powerful and hypnotic.
The film follows Plainview as he crosses the American frontier, searching for oil at all costs.
When one of his men is killed in an accident, the man's infant son becomes Daniel's, at his side and maturing into a young business protege.
In one small town, Daniel and his son HW (perfectly played by young Dillon Freasier) are approached by a young man, Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) with a story of his family farm that is oozing oil through the ground. Paul tells Daniel exactly where the farm is located and the details of his father and family at the farm for $10,000.
Daniel and HW visit the farm under the auspices of a father/son hunting trip and ingratiate themselves with the family.
When Daniel announces he would like to buy the Sunday farm and the land around it, Paul's father is willing to take the first offer, but Daniel finds Paul's twin brother Eli to be a far better negotiator.
Daniel comes to terms with Eli and promises him a thriving community and a special place for Eli's new church.
Over the two hours that follow that set up, Daniel Day Lewis creates one of the finest portrayals of all time of a man with single minded drive, a penchant for success and only one priority.
Circling around Lewis' Daniel is Dano's portrayal of Eli, a man with a similar obsession focused on his church.
Speaking in tongues, ranting at the rafters and intolerant of non-believers, Eli is the same as Daniel, while existing as a polar opposite in his view of the world.
In the middle of the film, an oil derek comes in and explodes, injuring HW and completely turning the film on it's head.
The entire twenty minute sequence is perfect, from the initial quiet set up, the explosive event, to the thirty second closing shot of Plainview's oil drenched face reflecting the flames.
In that face, your perception of Plainview changes, the focus of his moral compass becomes apparent and Writer/Director Paul Thomas Anderson turns over his hand, taking your perception of Plainview down a very different path.
I hate when films manipulate you with sweeping cameras and loud music (Spielberg's Cadillac of the Skies scene in "Empire of the Sun" being a glaring exception to that statement) but when a filmmaker as smart and exceptional as Anderson pairs his vision with Greenwood's music and Robert Elswit's photography, it creates a film experience that gets under your skin.
Elswit also shot "Nightcrawler" and "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol", great looking movies that are far removed from the mood of this film.
Over two and half hours long, riveting from opening shot to closing credits, this is one of my favorite films ever.
Daniel Day Lewis is probably my favorite actor working today. Daniel Plainview is an amazing character, fully realized by Lewis. His voice in this film is so powerful, you hang on every word.
Plainview is only verbose when he is selling townspeople his vision of their future. In those moments, he's charming, intelligent, caring and thoughtful. As soon as the pitch is done, Plainview becomes a different man.
That man is fascinating to watch.
Violent, adult and intelligent, There Will Be Blood is an all-time favorite that grows with each viewing.
As the film ends, you'll remember the opening scenes in which Plainview was alone,deep in a dark hole that he has carved himself. Only at the film's conclusion do you realize the same could be said for Plainview's life itself.
There Will Be Blood gets an A+.
Academy Award winner for Best Actor (Daniel Day Lewis) and Best Cinematography (Elswit).