Movie Review Friday -- There Will Be Blood
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There Will Be Blood (2007)
Available on DVD
Paul Thomas Anderson's take on Upton Sinclair's novel Oil! explores a turn-of-the-century oilman's descent into greed-driven madness. Stark, dusty landscapes combine with a beautifully unnerving score to create a sort of cinematic vacuum: It's as if you can feel all the warmth draining from your body as the plot unfolds. The sparse dialogue forces further contemplation of this uncomfortable emptiness. Daniel Day-Lewis gives a typically strong performance as Daniel Plainview, in which he methodically destroys every possibility for viewer empathy. (Plainview's nemesis, Eli Sunday--played by Paul Dano--performs a similar feat.) The easy reaction is to brand Plainview as wicked to the core. Plainview's ultimate wretchedness has such an emotional tenor, however, that it more likely represents an exceptionally driven man unhinged by loneliness and obsession, rather than pure nihilism. This obsession underscores today's politics of oil. How, exactly, did we become so addicted? Clearly, we're not all murderous prospectors, and yet the United States' relationship to oil continues to run as deep and murky as the vein of one of Plainview's wells.
--Review by Della Watson