Director/writer Paul Thomas Anderson’s oscar nominated saga about a turn of the (20th) century oil prospector (Daniel Day-Lewis) using his adopted son (Dillion Freasier) to help con people out of potentially prosperous land, and earn millions mining for oil.
At the turn of the 20th century, a cynical and rage-filled man, Daniel Plainview, strikes it rich mining for oil. After the death of one of his co-miners, he adopts his infant son and uses him to add an appearance of legitimacy to his growing empire of greed. He is approached by an obnoxious, god-fearing, small-town preacher (Paul Dano). The Preacher asks for $5,000 as a donation to his Third Revelation church, and gives Plainview the location of a large oil preserve under a small, highly religious town in the Texas desert. Plainview arrives and cons most of the town’s inhabitants out of there lands, and gives impressive speeches promising new roads, new schools and heaps of money to the town, all with a devilish grin. When the rig does strike oil, Plainviews adopted son, H.W., is injured and looses his hearing. Plainview then becomes the target of the religious community, his rivals and strangers after sending his son away to a school for the deaf, while he stays to oversee his new goldmine and strike it rich.
Daniel Day-Lewis recieved a well deserved oscar for his portrayal of evil-hearted Plainview, but not even his performance saved this movie. There isn’t a single redemptive thing I took from watching this film. It crawls along at an annoying and painfully slow pace, and takes some of the most odd tangents. The movie is about 2 hours and 38 minutes in length, and feels three times that while watching it. Endless scenes occur with Plainview (sometimes with other characters, sometimes not) scouting out land or looking for things, which before the scene began, we knew they were looking for and didn’t need a three or four minute scene watching them find it. Things like that seemed to add unneeded length to the movie, and didn’t allow it to breathe.
It’s also disappointing that Plainview is given such a weak nemesis in the film. The preacher role of Eli Sunday, played by Paul Dano, gets very upsetting and annoying fast, and you wish for his inevitable fate to come a lot sooner. Plainview is also not a likable character at all. I honestly wondered who I was supposed to be rooting for, or be invested in; Plainview? or Everyone else? The script also doesn’t seem particulary well written for large chunks, including the first twenty minutes or so before a single line of dialogue is even spoken. Add to that, average-to-poor performances by most of the rest of the cast, and a very unsettling musical score, and There will most certainly be Blood…and tears…and anger at wasting over 2 1/2 hours of your life watching this highly undeserved best picture nominee.