DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson
May Contain Spoilers!
I’m glad I’ve waited a few hours before reviewing this one, as it’s still soaking in. My initial response was that this was an 8/10 film but on reflection, 9/10 seems to be more accurate. It’s hard summarise this tale of an oil man and his relationship with his adopted son whilst focusing on dealing with a small town, in which he begins drilling, as this is one of those films which just merrily goes along, but in regards to summing it up, brilliant is the only word available.
Beginning with one man, Daniel Plainview as he blasts his claim, the opening 15 minutes occurs without a single word of dialogue, just Johnny Greenwood’s eery and chilling score, as his claim grows from a one man operation to a team, to an oil find which is literally hand-bailed out of the hole. The detail of these early oil men is very interesting and telling of the sort of empires which have been built up on the back of them over the past century, but it’s that man, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) who steals the show from the opening frame to the closing line “I’m finished”, just after a rather bloody and unfortunate incident with a bowling pin.
Day-Lewis is a masterful actor who delivers a chilling, comical and above all believe able performance as Plainview, and brutal and selfish embittered oilman who seems to be genuinely polite and well-mannered whilst capable of malice comparable to few others. He is not a man to be crossed. This is not just Daniel’s movie though, the direction is beautiful, a clear demonstration of the industrial blot which the oil business is and was on the landscape, but I found this portrait of the turn of century oil trade to be very interesting and very well put across, with talk of money, the work involved and the construction of the wooden derricks, which seem flimsy and extremely dangerous by today’s standards, which they clearly were.
There will be blood indeed, but not in the way that you would expect but when it comes, it is delivered in one of the best scenes in the entire film, with Daniel Day Lewis’ and his arch rival, Preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) having their final showdown and bringing the film to satisfying conclusion. There will be blood is a promise kept but not abused.
A classic, though not for the easily bored…