There was blood. And great, groundbreaking film making. Paul Thomas Anderson does not make movies, he makes symphonies, scoring themes and grand ideas with his characters and their stories. He is also the farthest thing from a typical Hollywood director, straying from both the lowest common denominator Michael Bay esque school of thinking and the quirky indie irony posse.
In fact, I am sure that almost every filmmaker in America wants what Paul Thomas Anderson has, the ability to make movies with final cut and relative independence with A list stars and constant funding. Anderson also draws fawning reviews and hyperbolic admiration. Award shows have not been especially kind to him but when he does not win, the institutions awarding the awards appear to be at fault and not him. All that being said, There Will Be Blood seemed destined for greatness from the start, especially since Daniel Day Lewis, a fine actor, whose amazing acting is commonly mistaken for overracting, would be the one anchoring Anderson’s loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil.
The movie is concerned with the life and times of an oil man, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis) in pre industrial America. The running time of around three hours might put off some but this movie is pure hypnosis. The performances, the incredible score by Jonny Greenwood, the trance like tracking shots and overall excellent cinematography all work harmoniously to form, you guessed it, a symphony. There Will Be Blood was destined for greatness and fully matched what filmgoers can expect when talent the level of Anderson and Lewis work together.
There are numerous standouts in Blood as well. Paul Dano forgoes his Little Miss Sunshine emo super quirky teenager past and thoroughly slips into the role of a preacher, Eli Sunday, who is possibly as deranged as the oilman, Plainview, that he rails against. Plainview’s son, whom he uses as a benign front for his dealings, also delivers an unusual amount of depth for a child actor, giving off a sense of ambiguity that’s apparent throughout the movie.
Now, we must discuss the ending. A large number of critics have hated it. I must say, however, that it was stunning and brilliant. It would have been a cruel joke to make a movie so singularly different and great as There Will Be Blood and top it off with a stock Hollywood ending. Instead, Anderson raises the volume of his symphony to delirious heights and delivers a flawless conclusion to a flawless picture.
Now to deviate from the script. It is not unfair to label this the next Citizen Kane, the film is an American epic much like Welles’ masterpeice. The entire film geek populace is on the lookout for Anderson’s next project, which hopefully will not take three years to make. How necessary is film school if he didn’t need it? Then again not everybody is a Paul Thomas Anderson. Where did he learn from and how did he become so technically proficient? That is the question.