The direction, acting, design, aesthetic and mood throughout There Will Be Blood convinces you every step of the way you’re in the hands of masters. PT Anderson might not be the best director on Earth, nor Daniel Day Lewis the best actor, but the mark of quality is unmistakable.
How epic the decay of a man’s soul due to capitalism can be is open to question because it’s a hard thing to get such high drama out of, but you get the feeling Anderson and his crew behind the camera and Lewis together with Paul (Little Miss Sunshine) Dano in front of it come the closest we’ll ever see.
Daniel Plainview (Lewis) starts out as a gold prospector who finds oil at the outset of the 20th century, transforming him into one of the robber barons of the new age, selling his pipelines to wary ranchers and swindling those who resist out of it in a bid to consolidate his power.
So begins a battle of wills between Plainview and the young evangelical parish priest (Dano) who oversees the community Plainview settles near for a big drill. It’s not clear whether Anderson intends for the movie to devolve into an allegory on religion versus capitalism or whether it’s simply a comment on the corruptive influence of money on mens’ souls at the dawn of the age where a single man could own previously unimaginable amounts of property and influence.
Day Lewis’ performances is astounding, and not for all the right reasons. At times it’s more showy than merely good and you stop watching a character living out his life but Daniel Day Lewis giving an astounding performance.
The extras are pretty paltry, but include a fascinating 15 minute short comparing the photos and footage that comprised the research with the extraordinary authenticity of the finished product.