Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O'Connor, Dillon Freasier
Somehow I felt privileged being able to watch this film in a cinema. I didn't think I would be that lucky, to be honest, especially with the kind of films that our country gets to screen these days. There Will Be Blood is up for 8 Academy Awards this year, and after what I saw today, it's guaranteed for one win at least.
So here's the film's synopsis for ya: it's the turn of the century, 1898. We see a man mining silver out of a hole, who then moves to mining oil four years later. He makes good money out of it, and is always on the lookout for oil prospects and making more profits. This man is our lead character, Daniel Plainview. Daniel runs his own mining team with his son, H.W.
One day, he meets a young man who tells him of a place in Little Boston where there is oil. He goes up there and meets the family who owns the land, the Sunday family, and buys it from them. Then he brings his entire mining team over, sets up his business and promises the surrounding community the benefits from his oiling business. However, his determination in seeking profits earns him an enemy, in the form of the second son of the Sunday family, Eli. Eli is a self proclaimed religious prophet who seeks money from Daniel in order to build his church for his followers.
Daniel also has to contend with other threats: other oil businessmen, a long lost relative, accidents at the mine and his strained relationship with his young son, caused by the latter's deafness from a mining incident.
And that's basically the story. It's about one man's quest for oil which is soaked in many different elements: greed, vengeance, hate, religion and the worst parts of the human psyche. This isn't about oil drilling, even though it may look like it. Paul Thomas Anderson, the director, focuses almost the entire film on Daniel Plainview, and how he becomes the powerful yet deceitful and brilliantly evil person as the story progresses.
As for casting, you can't possibly find a better actor to do this than Daniel Day-Lewis. This is probably the only guy who can make a film every few years and make it memorable. I mean, Daniel IS the film. He is so charming and brutal and believable in his role, that for the majority of the movie, you'll forget that it's Daniel Day-Lewis under the hat of Daniel Plainview. This year's Best Actor Oscar should be his for the taking. But I also have to commend Paul Dano for his portrayal of Eli Sunday. Last year, Dano was the silent brother of Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine, but this year he definitely makes a bigger impact than that film. Eli is a pathetic man trying to screw Plainview and the people he preaches to using religion, and Dano pulls off the role very well indeed. Day-Lewis' confrontation with Dano in the final scene of the film is my favourite. Both actors were excellent.
Anderson does a brilliant job in most aspects of his film, from dialogue to camerawork to set design. My only complaint perhaps, is the length. It feels long, as Anderson takes his time to flesh out his story and characters. But I think the payoff at the end is worth the time.
There Will Be Blood isn't an easy film to watch, but it's worth it, even if you're not a fan of Mr Day-Lewis. (4/5)