There Will Be Blood
Paul Cook 15/03/2008
Paul Thomas Anderson is somewhat of an underground director, having directed just a handful of films one might only have heard of. Magnolia and Boogie Nights are probably his best known films and although incomparable for the most part There Will Be Blood is easily his greatest masterpiece. That's all this film can be describes as in many respects, an epic masterpiece, driven forcefully by the outstanding Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview. For today's standards two hours and forty minutes is a 'long' film yet There Will Be Blood breezes through it effortlessly, at times packing a hefty, visceral punch too.
Astoundingly, the rest of the cast are relatively unknown until a sneaky imdb check-up tells you much of the cast have starred in dozens of well-known films. Paul Dano in particular shines as two characters, Eli Sunday and his brother Paul Sunday. It is a solid and frequently stunning performance, particularly when acting alongside the masterful Day-Lewis. Epic as it may be, neither the subject matter nor the scope of the film in terms of action are epic. It is therefore the performances that lead to this description - and rightly so. Daniel Day Lewis, having only starred in 3 films, including There Will Be Blood, in 11 years is a choosy actor to say the least. This said, almost all his previous performances have been special and unforgettable in one way or another, and There Will Be Blood doesn't just live up to expectations, it shatters them with a brooding, powerfully believable master class in acting.
Hailed as the new Citizen Kane, and having seen both recently, There Will Be Blood, in certain respects is a greater film. Despite sharing similarly resonant themes of capitalism and religion and further conveying the importance of family unity, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis' epic story of an oil man's rise and fall of morality and power have a bravura and deeply emotional connection that Citizen Kane has always lacked. It's been a long time since cinema has been graced with so many fine examples of the cinematic experience and unique ability to engage and immerse its audience and with Atonement, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood having been released in the last 6 months, cinema hasn't been this good for a long, long time. A modern classic has been born and will live on to become one of the truly great films of our time.