There Will Be Blood

This is a big, sprawling epic that explores the beginnings of the petroleum industry in the United States, particularly in the American West, right after the turn of the 20th century. It starts with about 15 minutes of virtual silence, showing Daniel Plainview, played by Daniel Day-Lewis ("My Left Foot," "A Room With a View," "The Crucible" and "Gangs of New York") working with solitary determination in a small silver mine in New Mexico. Despite injuries and setbacks, he blunders into his first oil strike. The next montage illustrates his growing successes, with a small crew and additional wells. You can't help but anticipate the horrific accidents and do a little tip of the hat to OSHA as you see them. (The story is based -- loosely -- on an old Upton Sinclair story, "Oil.")

By the time Daniel is traveling to California, lured by a young man who promises him oil on his family's otherwise worthless property, Daniel commands some wealth and can invest in what should be a huge step toward financial security. H.W., Daniel's little boy, is the silent observer to Plainview's actions, both good and bad.

This is pretty much a one-man show, with Daniel Day-Lewis once again showing his mastery of accents, attitudes and physical characteristics, e.g., he breaks his leg early on, and as he ages, the leg gives him some trouble. It is never enough that he makes a point of it, he just walks like an older man who is a little stiff when he first gets up from a chair, etc... The man is very, very good!

The other actor worthy of note is Paul Dano ("The Ballad of Jack and Rose" and "Little Miss Sunshine") who plays Eli Sunday, the young man who lured Plainview to California in the first place. Sunday's sole intent was to help his hard-scrabble community grow, so his tiny church could benefit. Dano and Day-Lewis do some notably lengthy scenes in single takes that are impressive. Both are highly capable actors and the writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson ("Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia") is more than willing to show off their abilities.

This movie isn't nearly as bloody as the title would have you believe, as a mater of fact, the title is taken from an Old Testament verse that the charismatic preacher quotes. He and Plainview have an on-going rivalry that becomes an obsession with both of them...so make no mistake, there IS blood!

This movie was NOT fun! Daniel Day-Lewis never stars in movies that are fun...but he relishes his chance to play a Tom Selleck look-alike, and does it well. He has a top-notch supporting cast, wonderful locations, terrific cinematography and an involving script...but it is NOT fun!