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There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood
Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring Daniel-Day Lewis, Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier

Paul Thomas Anderson has scored himself quite a bit of critical and audience recognition over the past decade with Boogie Nights and Magnolia (I love both), though some naysayers would accuse him of biting off a bit too much from obvious influences of his like Martin Scorsese and Robert Altman. Whatever, no biggie in my opinion because all influence those two had on him is not at all evident in this multi-layered and slow-boiling character study.

Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis) is a beaten down roughneck who wisely decides to make a go of the oil drilling business after getting burned while digging for silver. The way he acts indicates that he hasn't had much luck with people, love, God, family and even happiness. The entire film stretches out over almost thirty years telling the story of this one man and we, the audience, are given the task of wrapping our heads around the idea of a man with no emotional attachments on this Earth. Why does a man who hates himself persist? I still haven't come to a clear understanding of Daniel Plainview, but I had fun watching him troll through the beginning of the twentieth century, extracting oil in a most efficient fashion from the Earth.

Daniel Day-Lewis, at first, just looks like he's doing an alteration on his Bill the Butcher performance, but by the end of the movie it's apparent that he's done something much grander than that. Watching him on-screen is sickly fascinating, but it's impossible to turn away. On paper the character of Daniel Plainview is a heartless monstrosity. It's simply his nature and Daniel Day-Lewis brings him to life.

Another performance and character that I have to mention is that of Eli, played perfectly by Paul Dano. Eli is an overzealous preacher that attempts to interject himself into various facets of Plainview's drilling of the small settlement of Little Boston and if it weren't for the faint smell of exploitative scumbag that hangs around his head, we'd almost feel bad for him. The clashes between him and Daniel Plainview are some of the best parts of the movie and Dano, amazingly, holds his own against the great Daniel Day-Lewis while he's at the top of his game.

This movie was like a tiny flame that slowly, but surely, grows into a raging inferno and I had so much fun watching.