DVD - Image A- Sound A Extras B+
BD - Image A Sound A+ Extras B+
starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O'Connor, Ciarán Hinds
screenplay by Paul Thomas Anderson, based on the novel OIL! by Upton Sinclair
directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
by Walter Chaw The jarring, discordant first notes of Jonny Greenwood's score announce that Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood will realize the promise shown by the auteur's closest analog, Punch-Drunk Love. Almost experimental in its marriage of noise and vision, it's reminiscent in that regard of a Sergio Leone epic about the foundation of a specific aspect of the American character. Pithy that such a thing plays like watching an insect under glass: There Will Be Blood is accurately described as a piece of existential entomology--Kafka somehow married to Upton Sinclair (on whose OIL! the film is formally based). It's a modern, and modernist, take on The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, starring an actor who may be the best of his generation turning in a performance destined for legend, though I'd offer that when Daniel Day-Lewis actually does go off the rails in making a mad catchphrase out of "I drink your milkshake!", it's proof that the rest of his work here is really rather restrained. The best movie of the year if not for No Country For Old Men, it shares with that masterpiece this idea that money corrupts absolutely, its venom catalyzing on contact. Choosing to open with a silent 16-minute introduction that sees Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis)--digging for riches by himself in what could be an outtake from Sierra Madre--discovering his share of silver and parlaying it into an oil empire that will eventually leave him alone, misanthropic, and finally insane, Anderson is clearly implying that material pursuits mine the humanity from mortal loam. While he has disdained political reads of the picture, the philosophical ramifications of Anderson's barren exteriors held up against Plainview's barren interiors--the both of them with endless potential, it would appear, for bottomless wells of bubbling black--are subtext enough, if not, of course, inextricable from politics.