The suggestive title everyone is talking about. Or should I say the brilliant performance everyone is talking about? Paul Thomas Anderson’s there will be blood is his very own free adaptation of the Upton Sinclair’s novel oil (1927) about the early days of the American oil business. And I probably should not say adaptation since, as Anderson acknowledges, there is too much of the novel that inspired him left behind. But, who says a filmmaker cannot take a novel and draw something new but yet impregnated with the novel’s essence? There would be then minor room for cliché statements that claim that a particular novel is better than the movie based on it. I am so tired of them. Give to cinema what is cinema’s and to literature what is literature’s.
The events remind me of those of older films, and I am not just thinking about giant (1956). The rise and fall of Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), that is, an oil man who makes his way up from down low. This epic has the taste, and the length, of past times, but with a dark and bitter twist to it.
Anderson, who dedicates the film to Robert Altman, is one of those directors that take his time between movies, a whole five years have passed since punch drunk love (2002). Nevertheless, Terrence Malick’s throne is safe, Anderson has already five with this one since sidney (1996). It is interesting that Day-Lewis does not like to proliferate either, that might be the reason I have not seen any of them putting his foot on his mouth on screen yet. Anderson is smart enough to trust in Day-Lewis but does not forget about his responsibilities. The way he shots the Texan dessert (Californian on the screen) helps building the aura of loneliness that witnessed the raise of the black gold empire. Some shots are just beautifully harsh. And the music, the chaotic pieces composed by Johnny Greenwood (member of Radiohead) accentuates the scattered and scarce low paced action scenes both annoying and thrilling the audience.
Anderson’s script deals with all the topics of raising and falling on screen but he adds his own trade mark to the genre. He throws in a loud silent battle between faith and materialism that set Plainview and Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), a young faith healer, at odds. He also takes care of not dealing with women to focus on Plainview’s vital anguish through his adopted son and mysterious brother.
Day-Lewis steals the movie from everybody. Not only from the rest of the cast, among whom Dano wonders with his most mature performance to date that unfortunately will not be remembered because of the English actor’s shadow. He also, somehow, steals the movie from director and scriptwriter Anderson. Day-Lewis raises his character upon greed, paranoia, and ambition. And he does it in such a way that by the time the story reaches its climax, his extreme and extravagant performance is everything but overacted. When I will look back all I will remember will be Plainview’s scary look. Just let me say here and now that performances like this one turns dubbing into a crime.
One hundred and fifty eight minutes impregnated of black gold and the good and bad that surrounded it in the early days. With a title as categorical as there will be blood you know what to expect, but the blood that there is, it is as subtle and abrupt as the title itself.
For the deadhours of those who think anyone can be an actor.
As a normal experienced movie reviewer I tend to write my impressions of the movie after having watched the movie… and as I look back on this particular movie I can barely recall the plot. All I remember is Daniel Day-Lewis.
His performance is off-the-wall, ridiculous, flawless. The only other performance that comes to mind which compares to this one would be again Daniel Day-Lewis in my left foot: the story of christy brown (1989) and maybe Ben Kingsley in ghandi (1982). Of course the brilliance of his acting is completely subjective, I am sure there are plenty of people who would return this movie half-viewed but an objective truth is that performances like these are few and far between.
I prefer to keep this short and let zEke put more words when he watches it; I will just say that I rarely watch a movie twice and i would sit in a theater and re-watch this movie just to see Day-Lewis perform, so: highly recommended.