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  Publicity Stills of "There Will Be Blood"
(Courtesy from BVI)

Genre: Drama
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciaran Hinds, Kevin J. O'Connor
RunTime: 2 hrs 38 mins
Released By: BVI
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 21 February 2008 (Exclusive Release in GV Plaza & GV VivoCity)


A sprawling epic of family, faith, power and oil, "There Will Be Blood" is set on the incendiary frontier of California's turn-of-the-century petroleum boom. The story chronicles the life and times of one Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), who transforms himself from a down-and-out silver miner raising a son on his own into a self-made oil tycoon.

When Plainview gets a mysterious tip-off that there's a little town out West where an ocean of oil is oozing out of the ground, he heads with his son, H.W. (Dillon Freasier), to take their chances in dust-worn Little Boston. In this hardscrabble town, where the main excitement centers around the holy roller church of charismatic preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), Plainview and H.W. make their lucky strike. But even as the well raises all of their fortunes, nothing will remain the same as conflicts escalate and every human value – love, hope, community, belief, ambition and even the bond between father and son – is imperiled by corruption, deception and the flow of oil.

Movie Review:

The ceaseless back and forth for attention between the two ominously titled magnum opuses of American cinema in 2007 are well deserved. The Coen Brothers’ sublime “No Country for Old Men” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s often times majestic “There Will Be Blood” share a great deal of attributes including their divisive powerhouse endings, but none of them more arousing than their shared Old Testament vehemence. The epic struggle between spiritual awakening and the primitive ambitions are at the centre of the film’s tug of wars between oilman Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) and preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), eliciting the most intimate yet profound fascination from its unholy communions. This turn-of-the-century period saga is frightening and attractive, mysterious and merciless.

The foundation is Upton Sinclair’s “Oil!”, the collusion of religion and politics amidst reservoirs of rapacious capitalism and slippery beliefs. Plainview’s self-interested certitude in his lust for power and conquest is pitted against Sunday’s faith in divinity. It is Sinclair’s harsh indictments of the dark undercurrents running wild at the heart of the American Dream put through the ringer by Anderson’s traditional inquiries into the paradigms of community, family, love and its tenets of salvation.

You don’t watch Anderson’s film so much as you experience it, be consumed by its ferocious lyricism and then left expended and shivering in its wake. With the masterly work from its cinematographer Robert Elswit, Anderson utilises quick, succinct bursts of penetrating dialogue and intense visual images. The spectacular ejaculation of oil and flame that punctuates the film’s master sequence is ravishing, deformed in its connotations and eventually turns unearthly when initiating Plainview’s baptism by fire. Anderson’s own macabre surrealism (underscored by Jonny Greenwood’s eerie score burrowing deep into naked skin) is less a showcase of auteuristic flourishes, but studded with cinematic touches that make the film’s turbulent psyche much more trenchant than what its narrative promises.

The twin castles of the film’s corrupted and corruptible, Paul Dano’s comparatively rumbustious performance next to Daniel Day-Lewis’s fired-up bluster is unique and effective in its filmic context. Dano becomes awkward, volatile, creepy, shifty, alluring and laden with suspicion and guilt. It’s a performance that punctures the cretinous Eli’s characterisation through its core, where hate and pity become inextricable. Day-Lewis erupts like a man possessed, via Anderson’s exorcism of his material, in his mountainous and overbearing strides of pained fury, as his curse of obsession is brought upon the sun-scorched desert plains like a plague of locusts. The animalistic fervour compliments Anderson’s raging beast, while emotion throws off Plainview’s equation.

There’s indefinable greatness apparent in the film, sustained by short bursts of throbbing fearlessness in its moral labyrinths. Expectations and sentiments run high for Anderson’s most admirable and progressive film yet, but even with an overzealous momentum, “There Will Be Blood” proves to be potently powerful and startlingly poetic.

Movie Rating:

(Magnificent, epic filmmaking)

Review by Justin Deimen


. No Country For Old Men (2007)


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