"There Will Be Blood"
While Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” wasn’t quite the re-definition of cinema that I might have expected from some of the reviews (after all, he’s already re-defined it twice, in “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights”, as well as performing the miracle of making Adam Sandler watchable in “Punch Drunk Love”), it’s certainly a wonderful piece of work. From the start, it immerses us in the dirty business of extracting oil from the ground, and tells an epic tale of the birth of a modern industrial nation almost entirely via close-ups of Daniel Day-Lewis. That’s an exaggeration, obviously, and the landscape cinematography is very impressive, but the film is dominated by Day-Lewis’ brilliant portrayal of Daniel Plainview as an unstoppable oil-man, bulldozing his way through the West; although the award for best supporting performance must go to Jonny Greenwood’s remarkable score, which doesn’t complement the action so much as comment loudly upon it. The title obviously carries echoes of the simplistic “No Blood For Oil” slogan, and blood is certainly spilt as Plainview builds his evil (if lonely) empire; but the film could also be interpreted as portraying the War On Terror as a struggle between Godless, soulless, rapacious capitalism and ostentatious, hypocritical religiosity (Eli Sunday as played by the excellent Paul Dano). Whatever, “There Will Be Blood” is classic Americana which rewards audience patience with some startlingly emotional climactic set-pieces.