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There Will Be Blood


Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciaran Hinds, Kevin J O'Connor

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Based on Upton Sinclair's famous novel Oil!, this is a slow-moving saga with a deeply-felt, Oscar-winning performance by Day-Lewis as the 1898 miner, Daniel Plainview, who finds silver and gold (while breaking his leg). Three years later, he strikes oil by accident, and has become a millionaire oil-man by 1911, when the body of this ambitious film takes place.

Plainview has also acquired a boy (Dillon Freasier) orphaned by the death of his father in an oil-rig accident, whom he brings up as his own son. Tipped off to the possibility of more oil on farmland in a neighbouring county, Plainview buys a farm there, encountering the farmer's son (Dano), who doubles as the fire-eating preacher at the local Church of the Third Revelation and tries to hassle Plainview for 500 dollars for his church on top of the purchase price.

Daniel's son is rendered deaf by an explosion at the rig and then there's the appearance of Henry (O'Connor), who claims to be Daniel's long-lost brother.

The key to Plainview's character is a revealed in a mid-film conversation with Henry, when he declares that 'I look at everyone and see no one worth knowing. I want to earn enough money that I can get away from everyone.' And he achieves it, ending, Citizen Kane-like, in a vast mansion with only a butler for the film finally lives up its title.

Day-Lewis gives a highly individual performance as this complex character (his moustache makes him look like Tom Selleck), while Dano is absolutely insufferable (which is probably the idea) as the youthful preacher who finds a way to humiliate Plainview when the latter turns on him.

Overall, though, not an awful lot happens in the film's 158 minutes, with much dwelling on characters' faces, as the director invites us to guess what's going on inside of their minds. I suspect many critics will hail this as the masterpiece it sets out to be, but it was a pretty agonising slog through those oilfields for me.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Paramount (Paramount Vantage). Colour by deluxe.
158 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 07 Feb 2008