There Will Be Blood, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is a movie about oil, family and religion. Oil miner Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis) leads a hardscrabble life with his son to discover and mine sites oozing with oil. When introduced to a site in Little Boston claimed by Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) to be sitting on top of an ocean full of oil, Daniel sets up camp there to mine every last bit of oil he can find. During this process, he finds himself losing his connection with his son and submitting himself to moral bankruptcy.
As mentioned, this film is about oil, family and religion. These three themes are the pillars that make up this movie. Daniel Plainview is an oil man, but he is also a family man. From the very beginning we get to see his exposure into the oil business and the hardships he had to face when mining for oil by himself. The first 10 minutes are dedicated to Daniel’s early days and contain not a single line of dialogue. Visual storytelling at its best. The family aspect of this film is mostly just the relationship between Daniel and his son, played brilliantly by Dillon Freasier (one of the best child performances ever). This relationship was brilliantly explored and tested throughout the length of the film. The religion aspect of this film is mostly between Paul Dano’s and Day Lewis’s character. The interchange between these two characters and their respective positions on God and the church make up a majority of the ‘oh my god’ scenes in the movie.
One thing you may have noticed about the two main characters in the film, Daniel Plainview and Paul Sunday is that they both carry the same first name of the actor playing that role. In my opinion, this is no coincidence. By using the same first names, every interaction that these characters go through is made more personal for the actors playing them. I felt it gave these two actors that extra bit of push to really get into their roles and give natural, layered performances.
Daniel Day Lewis in this movie is beyond excellent. His character is mortifying and I mean that in every sense of the word. Like Christopher Nolan’s Joker, Daniel Plainview has a mysterious past that we never learn much about. I loved this aspect about his character because it made his backstory mysterious and up to the viewers to interpret. His descent into madness and moral bankruptcy is also well realized yet terrifying at the same time. After Heath Ledger’s Joker, I would say Daniel Day Lewis gives the best performance of the decade. Paul Dano gave a mediocre performance. I mean when you’re playing opposite to Day Lewis in his prime, you never really stood a chance, right? Paul Dano’s character was overshadowed by Daniel Plainview in every scene they shared together. I felt that Dano didn’t bring that same intensity and passion as Day Lewis did, even though his character was extremely well written. At times, his performance was also a bit over the top.
This film is also shot extremely well. It feels like a film shot in 1960 rather than 2007. It perfectly captures the vibe of a classic Western whilst accurately portraying the gruelling occupation of oil mining. The camera pans brilliantly over the characters and scenery to capture priceless shots of intense facial expressions and jaw dropping sceneries. My only real problem with this film is the awkward gap of time it took towards its finale. The film skips over 13 years, without much exposition as to what happened in that timeframe.
But overall, ‘There Will Be Blood’ is a classic American tale. It features a career defining performance from Daniel Day Lewis, an interesting spin on the classic Greek tragedy, brilliant direction and writing from Paul Thomas Anderson and some iconic cinematography that I believe will stand the test of time,