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March 10, 2008 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

There Will Be Blood

One of the bad things about living in the southern hemisphere is that all the good movies come out in February, which happens to be the best month of the year weather-wise. This phenomenon can be attributed to it being winter in the North, where nearly all movies come from. In turn, the fact that these films are heavyweights is because winter film season is Oscar season in Hollywood. Paul Thomas Anderson (the guy who did Magnolia) adapts There Will Be Blood from the book Oil! by Upton Sinclair. From the opening baked desert shot, strings screech and you know this is going to be one serious film (the magnificently unsettling score by Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead is a highlight). The perennially brilliant Daniel Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, an eccentric self-made oil magnate whose personality strays into megalomania.

The film begins brutally in 1899 with Plainview scratching at the dirt to discover one of the first oil wells in the US. Over time, he comes to build an empire, buying land cheaply and sucking out its black gold, all the while training his young son H W in the art of making money. Plainview’s oddities come under pressure when he follows a tip to a dead-beat town in California called Little Boston, and must extract his oil from under the feet of a bunch of hicks led by the local evangelist (a full on Tamakiesque Paul Dano, who chillingly reminds us that religious fanaticism is no recent phenomenon). When young H W suffers a bad injury in a gas explosion, Plainview is challenged even further. Stark colourscapes, Day-Lewis’ neurotically twitching eyes and Greenwood’s infernal strings underscore his eventual decline.

There aren’t many surprises in There Will Be Blood, but this isn’t a bad thing. It’s a full-on, diamond-hard epic which delivers on its promises (there is indeed blood) and climaxes in a fittingly appalling final scene. Worth sacrificing two and a half hours of your summer for.


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