Tuesday, July 08, 2008

There will be Blood (2007)

It took me awhile to finally see this movie. The movie is based on an Upton Sinclair's novel entitled "Oil". The film is a good representation of how those early years of oil prospecting were. Better still is Daniel Day-Lewis' performance of Daniel Plainview an oil speculator who is driven to obsession about the black crude stuff. The cinematography in the film is barren and beautiful. One understands the plight that these men had and how alone they must have felt in their obsession. The landscape was unforgiving, and people did die. Fortunes were made, and better men were broken by their failures as well as their success. If you like character studies you'll enjoy "There will be Blood". Lewis' performance is stellar, and I believe he his performance is academy award worthy, but does the film stand up as a whole? That's the question I posed, and for me it didn't.

Take away the performance and all you have is some really stark visuals. I also felt that the length of the film seemed more then it should have been. Ultimatly was I interested in this man's obsession? I must confess that I lost interest mid-way through the film. I was more interested in how Plainview (Lewis) became the way he was. I understand that oil was his obsession, but why did he always have to win? What was the root to his obsession, and for me that distracted me from the rest of the film.

The ending also wasn't fully satisfying for me. I know Paul Thomas Anderson is a good director. I love most of his films, and I find him to be a gifted director and writer. I also would love to see how he rehearses his actors. It seems that in every film he does he gets a lot out of his actors & they give good performances time and time again. I just felt that in the end the film could have gone on some more, and that Anderson decided to end the film there because of it's length. I understand the theme of Plainview always wanting to win is what Anderson wants to nail home to us, and his final act does do that. But, again I've still learned little about Plainview's character except for his unnatural obsession for winning.

Maybe I'm asking too much, but I do think another interesting film would be how the man was created in the first place. There must have been significant events in Plainview's life to shape him the way he was shaped. What I did like was the relationship to his son or his supposed son. In the end we find out the truth, but at one point he disregards the son, and tosses him aside. His guilt for doing so never rings true to me, and the way Lewis plays it he seems racked with guilt when in actuality he isn't. Like I said the performance of Mr. Lewis is astounding, and well done. But it seems a bit overplayed too. Especially when the end comes and we find all that we've seen were false, and that the man we followed is a soulless bastard. Maybe that's the films best trait, but half way through the film I just don't buy it, and lose interest in the character. Maybe that's why I didn't like it as much as the critics liked it. In the end I felt I had wasted my time on this man, and did not care what happened to him.

If you see the film on DVD make sure you get the wide screen version, and see it on a big enough screen. The cinematography is outstanding, and like I said the performances in the film are interesting. I can't wait to see what Anderson does next. For me Anderson always delivers even when it's a bit uneven.

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