Deckard’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Director's Series-Part IV: Paul Thomas Anderson
"I Drink your milkshake! I drink it up!"
When I first saw There Will Be Blood, I was underwhelmed. I didn't dislike it, but compared to Paul Thomas Anderson's previous films, it just felt different. In terms of style and narrative that is. This is my second time watching this film, and I can say that it has greatly improved on rewatch. Watching it and paying much closer attention I can see how There Will Be Blood is really the major step in Anderson becoming more of an auteur than just a regular Hollywood filmmaker. The film chronicles Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he goes from being a miner to an oil tycoon in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and his ruthless quest for wealth.
One day Daniel and a group of miners accidentally come across an oil well in Southern California, which results in the death of a worker. Daniel adopts that man's child and considers him own, except he uses him as a sort of bait when talking to other people. This is to only give off the appearance that he's a good man and a trustworthy businessman that wants you to sell him your land. As the film progresses, we only find out more and more of how much of awful person he could be. It's funny how one could stumble upon a discovery that would forever change them into a rotten person. Daniel Plainview's sole motives is to control as much land and oil properties as possible, and continue filling his pocket up. While in the beginning we think he's just a businessman, someone that's good, as it goes on we think otherwise.
Anderson really went out of his own and into another era to craft a story about greed. While it's partially based on Upton Sinclair's novel, "Oil!", it's nearly wholly original. The novel is just the blueprint and basis. Anderson craft's together an epic drama film about one man and his quest. The more he gets (Plainview), the more increasingly he becomes distant from everyone and more ruthless. Anderson has perfectly captured the era present, from sets to costumes to the look and feel, just everything. He captured the 70's/80's well in Boogie Nights, and he captures the ending and the beginning of centuries in There Will Be Blood.
For the most part, There Will Be Blood is different visually speaking when compared to his other films. There's not as much moving shots, and it has more artistic, atmospheric feel to it, especially in the second half of the film where it gets considerably, much more darker. There's a lot of brilliantly shot as well as edited sequences such as the oil explosion scene and the bowling alley scene (which is at the end). But to fair, it's not right to just single those two out, when Robert Elswit's work is amazing here, probably the best of his collaborations with Anderson. Johny Greenwood's score, perfectly creates a soundtrack reminiscent of that time period and matches the film beautifully. It can be joyous and it can be frightening. Greenwood's score is vital to There Will Be Blood, as it really elevates the film.
The acting, well while there's great supporting actors in Kevin J. O'Connor, Paul Dano, and Ciaran Hinds, ultimately, it's Daniel Day-Lewis' performance as Daniel Plainview that's the grabber. I think he's a great actor, but in some of his films, I yearn to want more from the man. Here, he fully becomes this character and just embraces the madness of Daniel Plainview. There's never a moment where I feel like I'm watching Daniel Day-Lewis trying to get an Oscar (I'm looking at you, Lincoln), but simply Daniel Plainview. His tirade to Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) at the end of the film sent shivers down my body. Anderson writes the characters extremely well, especially Plainview, though while I like the other characters, I which there's a bit more development towards them. That's really only my only gripe.
By the end of the film, Daniel Plainview has everything he has ever wanted. He is alone, no friends, no family, nothing but wealth and greed. Exactly what he wanted. From the second act and onwards when really begin to dislike Daniel Plainview, and wish the worst for him. In the end, it doesn't come true. An evil man like him deserves to be alone and have no one. It used to bug me, but now I understand it. Paul Thomas Anderson's Oil epic is exactly that, an epic. A truly terrifically made film and I would say one of the most important of the 21st century.
"There's a whole ocean of oil under our feet! No one can get at it except for me!"