There Will Be Oscars
There Will Be Blood Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Ciaran Hinds
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
IN There Will Be Blood, the highly anticipated new film opening in limited release on December 26, we follow a madly driven businessman's pursuit of riches through the guise of oil.
Academy Award winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis - in a cast that also includes Irishman Ciaran Hinds - plays Daniel Plainview, the man who's quest for power and wealth changes his life. Not surprisingly, given its stellar cast, critical buzz is already predicting a sack full of Oscars for the film in 2008, when it goes up against stiff competition from other in-the-running films like No Country for Old Men and Atonement.
There Will Be Blood opens with Plainview working wordlessly in the baking hot southern California sun, pursuing his fortune with a frightening resolve. Although Plainview initially opens a silver mine, he quickly realizes that the real money is in oil.
Soon he acquires a soft spoken young son that he uses like a theater prop to convince wary locals that he's both an oilman and a family man. The boy, named H.W., is brought to business meetings to disarm Plainview's opponents and to learn his trade at the feet of the master.
But it quickly becomes clear that Plainview sees H.W. as a business partner, an inheritor, and even as an investment - but never once does he betray a fatherly interest in the young child.
Throughout the film Plainview's meteoric rise from small time oilman to a player in the big oil syndicates is relentless. Interestingly, he's never portrayed as deluded or odious (although he's often is).
Instead we see a relentlessly driven businessman, who is shadowed at all times by his nearly wordless right hand man Fletcher, played with remarkable subtlety by Hinds.
One thoroughly chilling speech, quietly delivered by Day-Lewis to his subordinate Hinds in a rare moment of candor, captures the essence of the power struggle and the resolve at the heart of There Will Be Blood: "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.
"I've built up my hatreds over the years little by little. I see the worst in people. I don't need to look past seeing them to get all I need. I want to earn enough money I can get away from everyone. I can't keep doing this on my own, with these people."
Although the film is set in 1927, there's no question that it strongly resembles our own age. We see oil magnates giving bribes to politicians in exchange for political favors; we see hypocritical evangelical preachers crusading for political (and not always spiritual) causes; and leftists are witch-hunted wherever they appear. In this way There Will Be Blood shows us how much of our modern nation actually took shape in the 1920s.
Day-Lewis, who has only made three films since 1998, is notoriously selective about which projects he signs up for, and in There Will Be Blood he gives what is perhaps the strongest, most multifaceted performance of his career.
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