There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood ★★★★★

Six years after being released, the power and audacity of There Will Be Blood has not diminished a single bit. It is hard to describe what makes this film work, simply because it combines so many incredible elements to create a movie like no another. Director P.T. Anderson makes his case for the best director of his generation with this film, which echoes some of Kubrick's best. The slow, deliberate pace, exquisite tracking shots, and a powerhouse performance like no other make the movie.

Daniel Day-Lewis provides one of his finest performances as Daniel Plainview, the narcissistic and greedy oil man trying to overcome anyone standing in his way. A re-watch reveals new and revealing aspects to his incredible performance. Before, I saw Daniel Plainview as a ferocious monster willing to trample anyone who gets in his way. The scariness of his performance has not subsided, but he appears to be very human. Lewis deserved every award for portraying a man with such rage and ferocity, while still displaying the kind of subtlety which is embodied by the rest of the movie. The relationship between Plainview and his son is still incredibly effective and heartbreaking. Their quiet understanding and affection is beautiful to see, and the eventual abandonment and resent is horrific and revealing.

He finds an interesting foil in Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), the epitome of weaselly greed and arrogance. The two face off, and while Plainview is undoubtedly the more frightening one, the conflict is a delight to watch. Their conflict is fraught in meaning and classically great characterization. It's a blast to watch Plainview's barely restrained contempt and Sunday's scarily empowered rhetoric. Their conflict culminates in one of the best final scenes I've ever watched, an ending which propels the movie into greatness. Anderson knows when to trust his audience with subtle relationships and character moments, and when to cast aside circuitous metaphor with beautifully blunt action (see the end of Magnolia for further evidence).

Technically, the movie is a marvel. Seeing Anderson's talent for creating visual beauty is wonderful enough, but it's entrancing when combined with Johnny Greenwood's excellent score. The music is reminiscent of a horror movie, so it fits well with the film's dark tone and effectively ratchets up the tension to unbearable heights. It contributes to this film's mastery of tone and mood, something which so many movies are keen to gloss over. In all aspects, the sheer virtuoso film-making behind There Will Be Blood shines through to create a memorable and powerful experience.

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