There will be blood
I wondered why this film had not been released in wide distribution until after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences nominated it for eight awards. I see why tonight.
I am seeing a trend away from classic film structure in which there is a beginning, a trail to a dilemma, a consideration of the dilemma, a resolution and an ending where the principals go on happier or sadder. The films that are getting critical acclaim are structured to give the stars opportunity to show their depth, breadth and range not how they fit into a plot. But in so doing, they tend to bore many moviegoers expecting (and adapted to) tradition. I suspect that had this film been opened in wide distribution initially, it would have died at the box office. But after it got a big Academy Award splash, the pent up demand will push it further along. Savvy marketing.
That isn’t to say that it isn’t worth a look, it is, even at two hours and forty minutes. But like similarly acclaimed Michael Clayton, and to some degree “3:10 to Yuma”, it has no flashing lights and bells. What it does have is showcase the incredible talent of Daniel Day-Lewis, an actor whose range appears to be limitless. Day-Lewis is given the opportunity to do what he does, not interpret his role but to become it. His performance simply cannot be over-rated.
The Rolling Stone review transcends mine so I will reiterate it verbatim: “Gargantuan is a puny word to describe (Day-Lewis’s) landmark performance. Try electrifying or volcanic or anything else that sounds dangerous if you get too close. His triumph is in making us see ourselves in Plainview, no matter how much we want to turn away. Day-Lewis and Anderson — a huge talent with an uncompromising gift for language and composition — are out to batter every cliché Hollywood holds dear. There Will Be Blood hits with hurricane force. Lovers of formula and sugarcoating will hate it. Screw them. In terms of excitement, imagination and rule-busting experimentation, it’s a gusher”.
All factors considered, I give it four and a half of five oil soaked Western hats.