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Review: There Will Be Blood

January 21st, 2008

There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood poster

As I mentioned in a previous post, Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the most overrated directors in film. I can’t stand any of his movies. Still, I wanted to see this movie after seeing the trailer and reading the almost unanimously positive reviews for it. Although I had my reservations seeing as I hate the director’s other work, I went into this movie wanting to like it as I love the time and setting in which it takes place. I should have trust my initial instincts.

This movie should have been titled There Will Be Snores and I heard a fair share of snoring in the theater I was in.

Reaction to There Will Be Blood

The problem lies squarely in the hands of the director, the hack posing as auteur, Paul Thomas Anderson. He lets his ego get in the way of his narrative and what we’re left with is a meandering and pretentious story without cohesion or resonance.

There are many problems that plague this marathon long film. The first and most annoying is the music by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. Film music is supposed to underscore a movie’s dramatic beats but Greenwood’s score tries too hard and intrudes upon the film drawing attention to itself like a hooker in a church choir.

Another problem the movie suffers from is Paul Thomas Anderson’s overuse of long tracking shots that follow the characters around. Used sparingly these types of shots can be effective in creating a dramatic realit, but when overused, as in this movie, they lose their meaning and only serve to slow down the pace and draw out an already overly long movie.

Daniel Day-Lewis is good as greedy oil man Daniel Plainview, his performance is both operatic and oversized and built around a gravelly voice and aristocratic cadence. Plainview is corrupt from the beginning to the end and does not change at all throughout the whole movie. This makes the character both unrelentling and fascinating.

At one point, the character of Plainview states that he “does not like to explain himself.” And that’s fine. What isn’t fine is how the writer and hack Paul Thomas Anderson keeps the character away at a distance. Without Plainview, there is no story. And while we don’t need to see or understand why Plainview is the way he is or does the things he does, we do need to see Plainview thinking and deciding his course of actions. Instead, what we get is a “greatest hits” filmmaking approach that shows what happens to Plainview at a distance without taking a point of view. To make matters worse, the supporting characters are disposed of like used Kleenex once they’ve shown up and served their purpose with little development and even less meaning.

There Will Be Blood is not, as some critics have suggested, the new¬†Citizen Kane. It may, however, be the new Empire (1964, directed by Andy Warhol) to audiences having to sit through this snoozefest. To sum it up, the movie, at 158 minutes, is long and boring. The pacing is slow and the directing is pompous and bombastic. The music is grating and intruding. And the critics have either been paid off or are Paul Thomas Anderson nut huggers. You’re better off watching the episode “Hellfire” from season 1 of MacGyver.

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