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There Will Be Blood (2007)   rating

Review: written 2008

Study of greed and paranoia

There Will Be Blood (2007)

More than an epic tale of an early 20th Century oilman, this is a fascinating study of greed for power and what it does to a man.

We meet Daniel Plainview down the bottom of a mine, exerting himself in mind-numbingly monotonous and backbreaking work, looking for gold or silver. He is a man willing to endure pain and humiliation to grasp more money, or more power. As he quickly moves from gold to black gold, he becomes more powerful, and his ruthlessness and underhandedness become more and more apparent, combined with the charisma required to persuade landowners to part with the mineral rights of their property. We learn about how he sees other people when he adopts a boy who he finds useful to put a kind face on his activities, and how he treats a man who appears claiming to be his half-brother. The movie kicks into gear though when he meets an equally power hungry man in the unlikely form of a young faith healer and preacher, to whom he takes a seemingly instant dislike. With the relationships with these three characters, we see his dilemma- his power is only something if he can pass it on, but when he sees only the worst in other people, how can he? Who will be worthy of the three to take on his mantle..?

The style of the movie has some stunning direction which tells us much of the story through scenes and images, rather than words, yet this is married with an intelligent, absorbing and uncompromising script. The music is daringly inventive, although with me the jury is out whether it is a success or a distraction.

Daniel Day-Lewis turns in yet another 100% authentic and believable performance, creating a chilling and yet at times charismatic character, and Paul Dano is remarkable as the young preacher.

Sure, women are given little to no role in the story, and it is unremitting in its bleakness, at times feeling like it has been designed to within an inch of its cinematic life. It's not going to be to everyone's taste... However, the authenticity, stunning performances and script that demand the viewer engage in some thought, have created what might just be a bona fide masterpiece, even with its flaws.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

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