Review: There Will Be Blood
Slippery SlopeLike Antony Minghella, PT Anderson is continually going above and beyond with his preternatural technique as a filmmaker, crafting undeniable touchstones for high-quality modern cinema in the process. And like Antony Minghella, it invariably leaves me cold.
Obviously there's some remarkable thematic back-and-forth going on, and the film's technical flawlessness is justified by a script that bravely humanises bloated plutocrat and wide-eyed faith healer alike. A lesser author would deal in broad strokes of dastardly, crazed, scheming and devout: Anderson's film is at its best when allowing the back-and-forth of ambition and faith to blur each others' edges.
The film takes a turn around halfway through, though: what had been a slow-burning meditation on how the West was won and where it got us ignites into the director's usual sturm und drang w/r/t the trials of paternal angst. It's an easy sort of autopilot, guiding the proceedings to their conclusion; but by that time, the film seems to have forgotten somewhat what it's about.
Day-Lewis' closest performance to this was his swaggering villianny in Gangs of New York. Like this film, that one dealt with an uneasy adopted father-son relationship in the crucible of America, red in tooth and claw; but unlike this pic, Gangs was more on-target the more twisted and operatic it became.