There Will Be Blood follows the rise of oil tycoon Daniel Plainview from his humble beginnings as a prospector working the land with his own two hands through to solitary mansion-bound multimillionaire.
I’m not surprised that this was adapted from a book published in 1927; it has a real old-fashioned feel to it and a palpable sense of authenticity. Therefore anyone used to the constant fast cuts, CGI, pop music soundtracks and ADHD camera work of modern cinema may find this film tough going. It’s a character study pure and simple, and Daniel Day Lewis is simply incredible. He is an actor – not a movie star – and at no point to you become aware of the fact that he is just an actor acting; he genuinely brings Plainview to life. Unfortunately for those who like their films with a lovable hero to cheer for, he’s a cold, bullying opportunist with a single-minded desire not only to succeed, but to see everyone else fail; if he encounters anyone or anything he can’t control, he must destroy it. Plus if anything, I found Paul Dano’s evangelist even more disturbing; Plainview may be cold-hearted and ruthless, but at least he had a brutal honesty about him and never pretended to be something he’s not. This is also a beautifully shot film with many memorable images and an extremely expressive score from Johnny Greenwood. It’s certainly not a cinematic quick fix and I think the best way to describe it is “Citizen Kane meets Michael Corleone”.
It won’t be to everyone’s taste but anyone who appreciates a cerebral character study complimented by a powerhouse acting performance should look no further.