RogerBW's Blog

There Will Be Blood (2007) 23 October 2022

2007 drama, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano; IMDb / allmovie. Horrible oilman is horrible.

I did, in the end, enjoy Anderson's Magnolia; I wasn't able to enjoy this. There we had little plot but lots of people, all interestingly acted; here we have the focus on one person, who undergoes no real change from start to finish. He's a horrible insincere salesman who wants only money and power and will tread on anyone who gets in his way. Day-Lewis gives a very intense performance, but it's not a fun performance like Milla Jovovich's in Future World, where she knows she's in a piece of crap but is determined to overact and have fun. This isn't a piece of crap, and Day-Lewis doesn't ever seem to be having fun, with what at times is a very hammy performance.

David Thomson in Have You Seen…? describes Day-Lewis's performance as "haunting", but, well, it didn't haunt me.

Cinematography is lovely, particularly in the early sequences of minimalist prospecting and oil drilling (and this is why industrial safety is important). The music mostly works, though it occasionally obtrudes (a particular urgent dramatic piece is used for a casual scene of driving to the station). But from the start we get just a series of vignettes, perhaps of the important moments, but in a way that feels like a filming of the notes for a book rather than a film with an actual story.

I suppose some people in 2007 still needed to be told that the gilded age of capitalism wasn't perfect. But that's all this ends up doing, for me.

As usual if you want more of my witterings you should listen to Ribbon of Memes.

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See also:
Future World
Magnolia (1999)

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