Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciaran Hinds,
Kevin J. O'Connor
RunTime: 2 hrs 38 mins
Released By: BVI
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(Magnificent, epic filmmaking)
Review by Justin Deimen