On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, There Will Be Blood gushes to an astonishing, enthralling 10.
I hate most people. My goal is to earn enough money so that I can get away from everyone, states taciturn Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) in Paul Thomas Andersons strangely mesmerizing character-study of a ruthless, misanthropic oilman doggedly building an empire in early 20th-century California.
Based on the first 150 pages of Upton Sinclairs muckraking novel Oil! the sprawling historical saga follows Plainview and his adopted son H.W. (Dillon Freasier) as they wheel-and-deal unsuspecting homesteaders out of their land rights, pursuing a plan to construct an oil pipeline to the Pacific Ocean from a rural enclave called Little Boston, near what is now Los Angeles.
Running roughshod over their competitors, they find an immovable obstacle in Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), an avaricious young evangelist who is as ambitious and unscrupulous as they are only his goal is building the revivalist Church of the Third Revelation.
Delivering a powerful, Oscar-caliber performance, Daniel Day-Lewis embodies the driving force of the determined entrepreneur, as he, literally and figuratively, trounces all opposition, even banishing his son when the boy goes deaf after an accident. As his spiteful, Bible-thumping, mirror-image adversary, Paul Dano matches Day-Lewis ferocious intensity.
Filmed around Marfa, Texas, where both Giant and No Country For Old Men were shot, P.T. Andersons daring, adventurous storytelling process often unfolds without spoken dialogue, utilizing Robert Elswits spectacular cinematography, Jack Fisks brilliant production design and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwoods evocative, dissonant score.
This epic concept is quite a departure from director/screenwriter Andersons previous films – Punch-Drunk Love, Magnolia, Boogie Nights and Hard Eight – and he emerges as one of the most exciting filmmakers of this decade.