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There Will Be Blood

September 11, 2010

There Will Be Blood (2007)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier

Synopsis: Through force of will, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) becomes a major prospector in the early days of the oil business out west. Until a preacher (Paul Dano) comes to town….

Review: Technically and logistically impressive, and made in such a fit of über-seriousness that is has cowered many critics into submission, There Will Be Blood left me for the most part unmoved and at various junctures actually quite bored. True, there are some very good things in it, but it’s difficult to escape the film’s oppressive and imposing air of self-mythicism that permeates nearly every frame. Anderson goes for the jugular with a narrative that is at once a caustic family drama, a Wellesian journey into his protagonist’s heart of darkness, a discourse on the relation between natural resources (in this case oil) and encroaching capital ideologies, as well as confronting the spiritual crises afflicting the story’s main characters. Anderson’s film carries these weighty themes defiantly – even implying a contemporary resonance to them – yet it’s a shame he hasn’t learnt from filmmakers with similar grand cinematographic and thematic aims, such as Bela Tarr or Andrei Tarkovsky, who elicited their material that much more sensitively and artfully. (March 2008)

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