Tuesday, September 16, 2008

There Will Be Blood... And Boy, Was There...

Oh. My. Gosh. 

Our heads are exploding and imploding simultaneously.  Thank goodness we don't believe in spontaneous combustion.

The film began with Daniel Plainview (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) mining for silver.  After striking oil, Plainview becomes obsessed with the power and control it brings.  An unfortunate accident (with a bucket and wooden post) brings Plainview unexpected parenthood - along with unexpected success.  He uses his adopted son to play on the sympathies of landowners.  Plainview is approached by Paul Sunday (played by Paul Dano) with an intriguing offer of "oil that seeps from the land." With the help of his son, Plainview investigates Paul's claims and gives Eli Sunday and his family an offer too good to refuse.  Eli, a charismatic preacher (imagine a younger John Lithgow in Footloose), requests to give a blessing at the oil drilling ceremony.  Daniel Plainview gives Eli the brush-off and begins a journey of destruction and insanity.  

There Will Be Blood was nominated for 8 Academy Awards and won 2 for Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Best Cinematography (Robert Elswit).  Critics seem to have a love/hate relationship with this film and now we understand why.  The story, loosely based upon Upton Sinclair's novel Oil!, is incredibly depressing with traces of humor and sarcasm.  We note the humor is somewhat forced and mostly out of desperation on the part of the audience.  Day-Lewis and Dano interacted with epic intensity that, in our opinion, cannot be replicated.  

April's Favorite Scene:  After his son is injured at the drilling site, Daniel Plainview is talking business with some of his associates, when Eli approaches with the intention of asking for the money owed him.  The two end up scuffling in the muddy oil.  Although the scenario is absurd, the intensity of the actors carries the moment without a single laugh from the audience.  
Tiffany's Favorite Scene:  H.W. Plainview, Daniel's adopted son, is injured from an explosion at the drilling site.  Daniel rushes to the scene, scoops the boy up into his arms, and brings him to safety.  The audience is placed in H.W.'s shoes when the film goes silent.  Daniel yells to his son and we hear nothing.  This scene is the catalyst that changes the film's tone from that moment on.

Final Thoughts:  Overall, There Will Be Blood would not qualify for our Top Ten of 2008 list.  We acknowledge the Oscar wins were very much deserved. Day-Lewis gave a spectacularly intense performance and pushed the acting standards to new levels.  Elswit set up jaw-dropping visuals and placed us smack-dab in the grimy dirt of Southern California.  While there aren't nearly as many casualties as a horror flick, There Will Be Blood contains brutal violence.  It is not for the faint of heart.  

Rating:  ******* (7 out of 10)

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