Striking cinematic black gold

“There Will Be Blood”Directed by P.T. Anderson(Paramount Vantage)5 Stars I drove 45 minutes to see “There Will Be Blood,” and it might be cliché to say that it was worth the trip, but this film is arguably one of the best of the year. Paul Thomas Anderson’s fifth feature differs widely from his earlier films; while it lacks the interwoven story lines and pace of “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia” it still carries the superb writing that Anderson has become known for. Anderson has found patience with his loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel “Oil”; the film has a much slower pace than his earlier films, not laden with constant action but rather sudden bursts of drama. “Blood” doesn’t have the forward momentum of his earlier films; Anderson opts instead for the slower feel of classic American cinema. Critics have aptly compared this film to “The Treasure of Sierra Madre” and “Citizen Kane.” Like “Citizen Kane,” “Blood” deals at its core with the corruptibility of the American Dream. Set around the turn of the 19th century in the barren lands of Southern California, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) plays a greed driven oil prospector who sets out to buy up cheap land. To discuss anymore of the plot details would only take away from the experience of the film. Enough cannot be said about Daniel Day Lewis’ acting in this film; his intensity leaves the viewer at the end of the movie feeling as if Plainview is more frightening than the “Cloverfield” monster. Plainview is a man for whom boundaries do not exist; nothing will stop him from getting what he wants. The preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) represents Plainview’s foil, a seemingly pious man to Plainview’s dark, soul?less character. It seems like a typical battle of good versus evil, but Sunday finds himself infected by greed; throughout the film, they pit themselves against each other. It seems as though Anderson’s primary influence is Stanley Kubrick; the most overtly Kurbrickian element is the use of Johnny Green?wood’s (of Radiohead) ominous score. At times chaotic, at times starkly beautiful, Greenwood’s score assumes a life of its own, dipping in and out of the film, perfectly mirroring its sinister mood. While Anderson is most well known for his long tracking shots, much like Kubrick, they function differently in this film. They work to highlight the subtle action rather then completely encompassing it. Some critics have said that the film’s final scene is the director’s only hiccup, but I felt that it could not have ended any other way. In what will hopefully go down in film history as “The Bowling Alley Scene,” the final showdown between Sunday and Plainview. The ending has the type of over the top violence that can be viewed as strangely comical (which features the film’s most quotable line, which happens to concern milkshakes) yet completely unsettling at the same time. This film should not be missed; Paul Thomas Anderson is at the top of his game, Paul Dano seems to come into his own as an actor and Daniel Day-Lewis delivers one of the most convincing performances of recent years. While oil spurs Plainview’s malicious actions, the film is really about the corruption and greed inherent in the death of American Dream.