There Will Be Blood (2007)

Few movies have captured the promise and dangers of capitalism like There Will Be Blood. This hisotrical epic sets its sights on Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) as the ultimate believer in ambition and greed.

We first see Plainview in 1898, silently toiling in his silver mine. Even injuring his leg means less to Plainview than finding silver; and when an accident turns up oil in the mine, Plainview reinvents himself. The movie jumps ahead a few years to find Plainview has reinvented himself, traveling from place to place with his young son H.W. (Dillon Freasier) to buy land and drill for oil.

Plainview gets a tip from a young man named Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) about a mass of oil on Sunday's family's land in Little Boston, California. Plainview explored, finds oil, and buys as much land as he can; he also builds up the town, gaining the goodwill of the townsfolk. His biggest nemesis there is Eli Sunday (also played by Paul Dano), the creator and revivalist preacher of the Church of the Third Revelation. Eli may be genuinely religious, but he's always prepared for a donation or publicity for his church; and he feels jealous of Plainview and anger at his family for selling their oil-rich land to him.

This movie is all about Plainview, and he is an impressive character. This character could almost be a slick con man, except he delivers what he promises. Neither the appearance of his half-brother Henry (Kevin O'Connor) nor the permanent injury D.W. suffers during a drilling accident can slow or even distract Plainview from his work. And if this is greed, it's not just greed for money: Plainview easily resists a generous offer to buy off his land and oil.

This movie belongs to Daniel Day-Lewis, who brings an extraordinary focus and intensity to Daniel Plainview. When Plainview tells his brother, " I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people... there are times when I look at people and I see nothing worth liking," we can sense this undercurrent was through his character through the whole film even though it was never stated and rarely acted upon. Paul Dano makes Eli Sunday a pathetic foil to Plainview, preaching with a weak voice and showy acting while always looking to be given something. Director Paul Thomas Anderson departs from his usual quirky and offbeat films to make this a stark, strong movie with an epic feel.

There Will Be Blood is a thoroughly impresive movie with one of cinema's most memorable protagonists. This is one of the best movies of 2007 and an experience that will stay with you.

Overall grade: A

Reviewed by James Lynch

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