review: There Will Be Blood (2007)

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I didn’t really know what to expect of There Will Be Blood. I didn’t really want to see it. It didn’t seem like my kind of film… I don’t really like Westerns and it seemed a bit “worthy” to me… and I never mean “worthy” in a good way. Also I’d heard that it was very long and I was a bit ambivalent on the director – not that I don’t like Paul Thomas Anderson or anything, it’s just that after having seen three of his films previously I still didn’t really have an opinion on him. I decided I had to though, there was so much talk about it and I just couldn’t see how a film that seemed so… linear perhaps? could be garnering so much praise.

Happily, it wasn’t really a Western, it doesn’t really feel that long and it wasn’t overly “worthy” either. I still have no particular opinion on Paul Thomas Anderson though.

So what’s it all about? Well, There Will Be Blood is loosely based on the 1927 Upton Sinclair novel Oil!. Since you’ve probably never read the book though and I gather the association is quite loose, I shall summarise. Basically There Will Be Blood is the story of the life of Daniel Plainview (played by Daniel Day-Lewis). There really isn’t much more to it. It opens with Daniel happening upon oil while out on his own in the desert prospecting for silver and follows him as he grows his oil business, eventually becoming one of the most successful oil men in California.

It’s a very interesting film. I don’t usually enjoy films that just go from A to B but I found this one very interesting. Not storywise, it’s fairly mundane in that respect, stuff happens, la la la. Where There Will Be Blood excels is in the characterisation, it paints these people’s personalities and motivations so vividly… I know that doesn’t really sound like much but to be honest it’s something that’s very rare in recent films. I thought the acting was great all round and I have to say it eventually, Daniel Day-Lewis completely deserved the Oscar and every other award he’s won for this performance. Really, it’s an amazing performance. The other characters in the film are peripheral in a sense but I still thought they were very well played and that all the interactions between them were suberb. As an aside, I’ve noticed on the internet that opinion has been split on Paul Dano‘s performance as Paul / Eli Sunday. I just wanted to say that I thought he was good.

There was one thing that annoyed me though… I don’t want to give anything away but I did think that the film skipped too much time at one point, when it jumped to 1927… I would have liked to know what happened in the years between. It’s rare that I’d say that a two and a half hour film should have been longer but in this case I am!

Anyway, I thought it was a good film… I didn’t think it was a great film to be honest, but it was an interesting film and Daniel Day-Lewis was very good. I’m glad I saw, if only because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about…


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