Monday, January 14, 2008

There Will Be Blood

No doubt about it, this is a magnificent performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. The film centers completely around his character, Daniel Plainview. In fact, Plainview is written as such a vivid force of nature that everyone else in the film barely exists. This is the major flaw in a powerful film about the early days of the oil business.

Paul Dano co-stars as Eli Sunday and his mysterious brother Paul Sunday (a minor character never quite fully explained). Eli is the young preacher who is at odds with Plainview throughout the film. Mr. Dano gives a terrific performance and holds his own in powerful scenes with Mr. Day-Lewis. However, aside from these two, every other character in the film is completely underwritten. Dillion Freasier plays Plainview's young son, HW but even he exists more as a plot device than a fully realized character.

The cinematography is fantastic, beautiful and raw. The first 20 minutes of the film are very unique. Kudos to writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson for such a bold move. Much has been said about the score. It too, is very unique and some will say irritating. While there may be some truth to that, it is very deliberate and fits the film perfectly.

The blood and soul of this film is Mr. Day-Lewis who breathes life to an unforgettable character. But in the end, the film is diminished by his overpowering presence, which just may have been the point.

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