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Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008 04:26 am

Black gold, blind ambition

There Will Be Blood is a monumental tale of avarice and corruption

There Will Be Blood Rated R Running time 2:48 Parkway Pointe
Untitled Document Some will dislike Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, and it’s easy to see why. It’s an abrasive work with an unsavory protagonist, its structure is anachronistic, and it does lose its way at the end. Be that as it may, this film should be embraced fully for its wild ambition, its emotional and physical scope, its sheer audacity, and a haunting performance by Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview, a man ultimately consumed by his greed. We meet Plainview as he’s mining silver in the middle of nowhere. Poor and alone, he’s determined to beat the poverty that dogs him. By shifting his focus to oil, he finally catches a break. Years later, he and son H.W. (Dillon Freasier) travel the country looking for opportunities, and one falls in their laps when they’re visited by a young man named Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) who tells of great oil reserves beneath his father’s farm. Plainview and his son verify the claim but come up against resistance from Paul’s twin, Eli, who insists on guarantees to the community and a promise that a new church will be built.
This sets up a battle of wills that rages over the course of the film. Although the riches do come pouring in, the cost to Plainview is high as a great tragedy befalls him, Sunday sets out to ruin him in the eyes of the community, and a person from his past emerges under dubious circumstances. All of this is told against the backdrop of an epic physical and emotional landscape, with the men walking the high wire between sin and salvation at every turn. Plainview allows his obsession to overtake him, and one wonders whether he ever possessed any sort of compassion. Greed is the fuel that drives his sociopathic behavior as he uses his riches to abuse and alienate others rather than cherish and enrich them. Day-Lewis keeps us fascinated throughout, and his performance is one for the ages. Cruel, arrogant, murderous, and altogether charismatic, the actor is immersed in the role, wearing his flaws with a sense of perverse pride that’s fascinating. In the same league as Citizen Kane and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Blood is a monumental tale of avarice and corruption. This is a brand of epic filmmaking the likes of which we rarely see anymore.
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