Saturday, August 29, 2015

Movie Review: There Will Be Blood (2007)

Author's Note:

Apparently I am the last person to see this movie.  Additionally, I have managed not to have it spoiled for me.  So I was able to sit down and watch this movie fresh.

Movie Review: There Will Be Blood (2007)

Once again, this movie has been out for some time, so of course there will be some spoilers.  I assume that, unlike me, you may probably have seen this movie.  Please feel free to comment below.


Yes, that was the book I used in 1987
Transcendentalism in American Literature; I really despise the whole literary movement.   I almost failed Sophomore year English class because I understood it better than the teacher and at one point I was fed up and mocked her in a paper.   However, I can appreciate a fine piece of art even when I don't like some of the tropes it uses.  Such is the case with There Will Be Blood.  The movie is all about people conning people.  Everyone has a con.  Everybody wants something.

The Good

Daniel Day Lewis is an actor whose name is revered in Hollywood.  If his name is attached to a picture it suddenly gains “Gravitas”.  He is the Marlon Brando of his generation without becoming a caricature of himself.  His performance here is nuanced and layered.  He takes every part of this manipulative and conniving oil man and like an onion, he peels it back one layer at a time to reveal more and more.  A lesser actor would have read the words, he was Daniel Plainview.  This is a master class on method acting.

Cinematography that in all of it's run time doesn't waste a shot.  The cinematographer can say more with the camera than the actor can with his words.  The wide open spaces of turn-of-the-century California is contrasted with the claustrophobia of the mine shaft.  Plus, I could help but notice the quality and use of wood throughout the film.  It helps to tell the tale.  From the old weather worn boards of the cabins, to the fresh new lumber of the church and town as it's being built, all the way to the contrasting rich grains of wood throughout Plainview's parlor and then bowling alley.  It is an attention to detail that is not lost when telling the story.

The Bad

I shouldn't be surprised about one of my biggest problems with this movie.  I mentioned earlier about my issues with the whole Transcendental movement.  Names give a lot away.  Weather plays an important role.  So seeing names like “Plainview” for a protagonist and “Sunday” representing religion almost insult my intelligence.  But then when the film telegraphs scenes, it becomes almost painful to watch.  By telegraphing a scene, I do not mean foreshadowing. Paul Sunday beating Daniel Plainview on the dais at the church is foreshadowing for the final scene of the movie.  Telegraphing is the blatantly bad setup for the accident where HW loses his hearing.  This scene was set up so badly that it became distracting to the rest of the sequence.

Casting issues also plagued this movie.  I seriously disagree with casting Paul Dano.  He was one dimensional in his performance, seeming to come across as creepy more than anything else.  He was also not convincing at all in the ending scenes where he has aged.  Essentially, this is a movie about con men and Rev. Sunday is supposed to be a charismatic church leader who can con little old ladies.

Furthermore, Kevin J. O'Connor is miscast as Henry.  In a movie about con-men, the con-man trying to con Daniel Plainview needed to be a little more of his own character.  Instead he came across like Fredo from the Godfather.  I think the part was written well, but it demanded a different actor.

I have to wonder if these performances were sub-par or just overshadowed by Daniel Day Lewis.  If you look at his work in Lincoln, you can see where he works with other good actors and they bring up each others game. 

I like this movie.  I recommend this movie, for the ending scene alone I recommend this movie, but given what I have said above it isn't one of my top 10 favorite films.

Final Score: 81 / 100


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