Sunday, February 03, 2008

Review: There Will Be Blood

So as a way to kill time before the Super Bowl, I saw "There Will Be Blood," the newest feature from Paul Thomas Anderson, and the darling of the awards season.

The story: we first meet aspiring oil man Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he's trying to scratch out a living mining for silver or gold. Instead, he discovers oil, and that sets him on his life's path. He goes about leasing oil-rich property, fixing deals with the property owners for his own benefit. He hears about a potential bonanza in California, and sets out with his adoptive son, HW, to search for his fortune.

One critic described this as the story of a thoroughly evil man, but I think Day-Lewis' genius is showing us the gray areas. The scene of Plainview with his adoptive son as a baby - it is so touching because of the actor's ability to show the burgeoning love on the father's face. The scenes between Daniel and HW are so moving!

Daniel Day-Lewis is so head-and-shoulders ahead of every other actor in this generation. Maybe his character choices aren't always the most accessible, but he totally inhabits each part. This character has anger simmering below the surface, as well as love and hate. And it all plays out in his face. How many actors could carry out the first ten minutes of this film, where this is NO dialogue?!

Okay, so I won't say this is my favorite film of the year. I'm actually not sure if I really liked it. Yes, it felt like "homework" at times - like, I've been told to see the film. I do know that Daniel Day-Lewis delivers one of the most incredible performances of the year. And - I loved the music, each piece seems picked for the scene. Also: Dillon Freasier as HW: can't wait to see what else he does. He was incredible! Paul Dano - last seen as the silent brother in "Little Miss Sunshine" - shows incredible range and potential - anyone who can match Day-Lewis when he gets into a scenery-chewing mood is worth keeping an eye on.

An interesting film. Glad I saw it - won't see it again, and won't add it to my DVD collection.



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