Eccentric actor Daniel Day Lewis ¾ despite being one of the most acclaimed and honoured working today ¾ doesnt say yes to very many movies. Yet when he does work, like on the latest epic from Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, Boogie Nights), Lewis hoists the entire film onto his shoulders and carries it through seemingly on sheer will.
A force of will certainly describes Daniel Plainview (Lewis), an early 20th century pioneer in the world of oil drilling. From the films early (dialogue free) scenes of young Plainview digging his first well by hand, to the final moments of this voracious capitalists life, determination and to a great extent, greed drive Plainview and this films narrative. From dragging around his young son (using his cuteness as an attempt to sell a "just a family business ethos) to viciously denying any and all competition and exploiting the naiveté of land-owners and workers alike, There Will Be Blood is Lewiss film, and his performance stands as one of the greats in recent film memory.
Anderson, tackling his first feature film since 2002s Punch Drunk Love, wrote the screenplay based on Upton Sinclairs novel Oil!. And while its ambition is no less grand, There Will Be Blood is much more focused than the sprawling scope of Nights or Magnolia. The stunning cinematography, sparse dialogue and strong supporting characters (particularly Paul Dano as a young, ambitious local priest who views Plainview as the devil incarnate) all contribute to making There Will Be Blood wickedly compelling viewing even with a running time of nearly three hours.
Perhaps the most unusual choice for Anderson this time out is the haunting film score by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood. Rather than a period-appropriate orchestral or old-timey score, Greenwood channels famed Hitchcock composer Bernard Herrmann masterfully. But at the centre of this film stands Daniel Day Lewis, always compelling to watch, daring us to root for his success while he ruthlessly mows down his competition, even when it comes from within his own family.
This is a stunning cinematic accomplishment that will stand the test of time. (Paramount Vantage)