Monday, December 21, 2009

"There Will Be Blood"

Ah – so that’s why they called it “There Will Be Blood.”

“There Will Be Blood” has its flaws, but there’s no doubt that it’s an example of great film-making. From the silent beginning (the first 20 minutes of the film is without dialogue, and was probably my favorite section of the film) to the shocking climax, there’s never a dull moment, and never a moment when the viewer is less than completely engaged and absorbed.

Daniel Day-Lewis is amazing as Daniel Plainview, though in developing his approach to the character I have to wonder if he studied John Huston’s performance in “Chinatown.” Listen to Huston’s voice in this scene with Jack Nicholson:

And then, listen to Day-Lewis as Plainview in the film’s trailer:

Sound familiar?

The film’s most visible flaw is the performance of Paul Dano as Eli Sunday, the charismatic and conniving preacher who becomes Plainview’s antagonist. Simply put, I don’t think Dano had the chops to play this role, and never for a moment did I think that he was a physical or mental force who could handle Day-Lewis in the ways that he did. It’s not a terrible performance - just not one that was up to the task.

“There Will Be Blood” may leave a lot of people with a bad taste in their mouth (seeing as how it launches an enthusiastic attack against both capitalism and religion), but it is definitely a film that should be seen.

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