Sunday, 9 March 2008

There Will Be Blood

Blood like oil...

Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), a silver prospector, unintentionally discovers that one of his silver claims is a host to unearthed oil. With this, he starts up a small drilling company and in a few years, becomes an efficient and successful oil extractor. He is approached by a young man, who offers to give Daniel information about a vast supply of oil on his family's property in Little Boston, California. Daniel, with his son H.W (Dillon Freasier) decides to survey the land and discovers not only a rich oil supply, but also a community obsessed with the preachings of faith healer, Eli Sunday (Paul Dano).

There Will Be Blood is a very relaxed adaptation of the novel Oil! by Upton Sinclair, and becomes more inspired by its source material than anything else. Yet the story is unique in its own way and works for the cinematographic medium. The immediate quarter hour which begins the story, while not exactly artistic in any manner, serves to set the tone for the remainder of the film perfectly. The film is ominous and tense throughout, spilling over from aptly suited scenes, to those that don't fall into the social convention of gloom, and this becomes one of the film's major strengths. The film has an unhurried pace, which is partly due to the story's ability to seemingly feel like it is going nowhere. Yet this creates a sense that the advancement of the story unfolds naturally, and it not constructed in a linear fashion, and continues even into the ending which is rather intangible, unexpected, and simply brilliant. In fact, by the time the credits begin there is a chance that you might need to recollect everything that has occurred, not because it's a confusing film, but because everything is not as it appears in what is arguably a straightforward story.

However the sheer emotional impact of the story cannot be felt in full force without the actors: Daniel Day Lewis is once again phenomenal as he leads a rather strong, albeit small cast. Lewis is menacing as the greedy Plainview, being able to express cruel anger, loving affection and best yet, the rare sarcastic remarks his character does provide, is done with lifelike aptitude. His counterpart, Dano, is spot-on with his performance as the creepy Eli, whose innocent demeanor is always questionable. The young Freasier should be noted as well; his presence is important and while his acting is not of a great standard, he is never terrible enough to judge accordingly. Another aspect that makes the acting one level better is the nonverbal cues each character exudes. All three cast members become more believable and the emotional aspect of the film really does prove overwhelming, especially in the later scenes. Considering the heavy emphasis on Daniel Plainview, and how well the main actors perform, the minor characters come and go without much notice and are not able to be of much impact.

On a cinematographic scale, the director, Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia), outdoes himself. Every scene is calculated, and in doing so, every scene feels just as important as the rest, and this really allows the film to grow. Anderson uses a variety of techniques to keep viewing fresh, with one favorite being a one-shot pan focus on Daniel as he runs towards a flame induced oil deposit, helping the rest of his crew to cut the ropes that keep the structure secure. The many scenes help emphasize the themes with an array of symbols that helps keep the film intriguing and never superficial. This carries over to the script as well which is realistic, flowing and, at times, quite clever,

The musical score's composition was headed by Radiohead lead guitarist Johnny Greenwood, and comes across as an oddity within the film. The general feel of the music doesn't seem to fit in with the film, sounding a little lighthearted at times when it maybe shouldn't. But in regards to the film general atmosphere, the music really does come alive, propelling the exact ambiguity shared by the characters and story.

Considering the title, there is very little blood in the film, with the violence limited to a couple of mining accidents and an unexpected beating. Language is as well minimal, until an onslaught of verbal abuse in one scene; sex and nudity are nowhere to be found.

There Will Be Blood is, in short, masterly conceived. Be it the story, acting, music, cinematography, or multi-layered depth of the film in general, every department excels to the point where the film is virtually flawless. It does, however, suffer a little from the lesser casts presence, and the selection of music feels, on the rare occasion, inappropriate. Nonetheless these two elements do not spoil what is easily not only one of the best films ever created, but one of the rare few that will never be forgotten.

10/10

Screen Date: Friday 07th March 2008
Release Date: Friday 07th March 2008

2 comments:

Bianca said...

Wow! What a brilliant review.

I've seen this movie and I absolutely loved it. You're able to break down the varied aspects / themes of the movie, which I'd never considered before, in a very practical and pragmatic manner.

Well done Cruiz.

You rock!

So does Daniel Day Lewis.

CruizD said...

Thanks a lot :)

It's my favourite film at the moment and I doubt I'll see anything that is better then this (unless of course its a DDL film - absolutely love him, great acting; he does rock!).