There Will Be Blood

Bottom Line: And there will be bores, too.

“I drink your milkshake.  I drink it up!” –Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Barry Del Sherman, Ciaran Hinds, Daniel Day-Lewis, Dillon Freasier, Hans Howes, Paul Dano, Paul F. Tompkins

Heavy, early 1900s-set period drama about Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis).  Plainview is a stubborn oil businessman who will do anything and everything to get what he wants.  His adopted son, H.W. (Dillon Freasier), begins working as a loyal business partner after he is orphaned due to a tragic mining accident.  Plainview soon meets Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), a spiritually-driven preacher, and promptly purchases for his property, which has a large oil deposit.  From there on in the story, Plainview attempts to make promises to much of the surrounding land to build churches and roads, and to strengthen the community.  Soon enough, the community begins to realize that the only person being benefited from this is Plainview himself.

Have you ever read a book that you had to get fifty pages into in order to actually enjoy, and after that you still can tend to get bored?  The cinematic answer to those kinds of books is THERE WILL BE BLOOD.  The film starts out very, very slowly.  Within the first fifteen minutes, not ten words are spoken.  After that, it begins to work its way up, but it still never becomes sufficiently entertaining.  It’s not until thirty-five minutes have passed and the plot (or plots, if you count each moralistic sub-story as one plot) is officially established that this film finally got my attention.  That’s when the characters had been fully developed and the script finally achieved some convenient dialogue.  About an hour and fifteen minutes through, I had checked out again.  Repeat this cycle probably once more.  On the other hand, the ending was one of a few things that made me rethink the film.  It encased one of the most heated, well-done arguments I have ever seen in a movie, between actors Day-Lewis and Dano.  I won’t spoil anything too big, but let’s just say that Day-Lewis drinks Dano’s milkshake*** (so to speak).

“I’m finished.” –Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview

Day-Lewis, in fact, was what made this film ultimately watchable.  His performance started out quite mighty, and it only got better from there.  I can’t compare it to any of his other roles.  Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any of his other acclaimed performances in films such as GANGS OF NEW YORK, MY LEFT FOOT, and IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER.  What I can say is he deserved the Oscar he got for his performance here.  His delivery was one of the best I’ve seen of the last decade.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD had a very interesting plot, taken loosely from Sinclair Lewis’s–I mean Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil!.  The problem is the speed at which the story is told.  Had the pacing not been so inconveniently dilatory, I would have given this a much higher grade.  I’m not saying films shouldn’t take their time.  They should in some cases, and this was certainly one.  In other words, there’s a difference between watching someone carefully paint, and watching the paint dry.

***For those who haven’t seen the film, I won’t expect you to understand that reference.

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21 thoughts on “There Will Be Blood

  1. After reading your review it feels like you’re going to give it a C+ or lower, but a B is still a positive review. With that said, I thought this was one of the best films of 2007. It was so epic. Paul Thomas Anderson is one of my favorite directors. The Master starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix comes out this October and it’s one of my most anticipated films of the year.

    • Thanks. There’s some movies (The Iron Lady being the first one off the top of my head) that I find completely unwatchable without that one PHENOMENAL performance. This was one of them. I really need to see more of Daniel Day-Lewis now. Hopefully I can manage to see My Left Foot–I’d expect that’s good if it gets a RT score of 100%.

  2. Great review Alexander. I disagree with you since, like Mark, I absolutely love this film, but I do enjoy your take on it. Plus, I love all the cool posters you find for your reviews. Where do you find those awesome things?

    • “Had the pacing not been so inconveniently dilatory, I would have given this a much higher grade.”
      “there’s a difference between watching someone carefully paint, and watching the paint dry.”
      I think those were mainly where I summed up half my disappointment with the film. The other half: I was in 4th grade when this movie came out, and it looked interesting to me even back then. I was probably the only one in my entire grade (make that “school”) that had even heard of it, other than the teachers, but the plot looked so interesting to me. I had to wait till my parents approved it, because it was rated R (but it really warrants more of a PG-13; I guess it’s better I watch it now than two years ago, when I probably would’ve given it a C- because I wouldn’t have understood half of it). So I was anticipating this for so long; I kind of see reason in my assessment. Had this come out when I was as old as I am now, and I had seen it right away, I probably would have enjoyed it as much as you did, if not more, because I wouldn’t have had the anticipation factor growing on me for 4-5 years.

      About the posters, I’m glad you asked. You can find them anywhere online if you just type in “[insert movie title here] minimalist poster”. You really should start a film blog, man. I really love your Flixster reviews, but there’s no way to comment on them. Yesterday or the day before, when I read your review for Manhattan, for example, it made me really want to go back and watch it again. I loved it just as much as you did, but I didn’t seem to pick up on those characters’ so much. 🙂

      • I hope you take this as the compliment it is intended to be man. But as a 14 year old your outlook and view on life is astonishing. Far more than I had at your age but I long for your “more experienced” life view on the film’s you have reviewed so far. Not to take away from your view now, but I think this will change as you go on. I know I certainly did. I couldn’t do what you do as teenager but I also know that my opinion changed dramatically as I got older. I believe yours will. And in a few years time your opinion of this film will change.

        • Thanks for the compliment, but after I read it, my eyes kind of glanced up toward your profile picture, and it glared back at me kind of oddly. 🙂 Completely kidding, of course! I actually do hope my view on life, films, and the two combined change a bit as I grow older. Especially with this film. I wanted to like it so much. I know if I had seen it when I was in fourth grade, when it came out, like I had wanted to, I probably would have been so much more disappointed because I wouldn’t have understood one bit of the material, haha. Maybe I’ll watch it in a few years for a second time, and I’ll like it as much as you and Chris–who knows? 🙂

        • Hi there, I just viewed your review while posting your award down page. I think your site is great and as Mark has said congratulations on your achievement in blogging so far. I agree with Mark also that this movie is exceptional and is in my all time top ten, which I will be reviewing shortly, I too hope your opinion changes on this movie in time.

      • Ah. Who knew it was so simple to find them? I’ve been having fun looking up random films I like to see what posters people have come up for them. I know, I know. I’ll eventually get around to creating a blog someday…and probably make it just for my movie reviews.

        • I agree. I love minimalist/fanmade posters mainly because they often display inside jokes that only those who have watched the film will get. (Like the milkshake on the poster for There Will Be Blood, all the Japanese on my poster for Lost in Translation, and a blue woman’s shoe among all the other brown men’s shoes on my poster for The Iron Lady.) That way I can subtly lure my readers into seeing the films that I write about so they shall get the inside jokes, mwahahahahahaha. But not that evilly and definitely not that cornily. 🙂

  3. This may be another we have to disagree on Alexander. Lol. I absolutely loved this movie. It one of the finest cinematic achievements of recent years. I will agree on your take of Day-Lewis though. A mighty performance .

    • Well, we can’t agree on everything, can we? I can understand loving it. I probably would have loved it, had the first fifteen minutes not promised such a slow film. And that obnoxious music that sounds like a traffic jam.

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