Standing at the heart of this monster and screaming ‘I’ is Daniel Day-Lewis. A villainous monster, equally repulsive and eerily inspiring, Day-Lewis possesses Daniel Plainview with such demonic fever. Plainview is charming and charismatic, a likable man with his small limp and smile, and family man exterior. Behind the squint of his eye, evil deeds await for all who fall prey to him and his conquest. ‘There are times when I look at people and I see nothing worth liking.’ Plainview is a monster; with such content towards man, people are nothing more than meat to discard once he’s dried the land, yet he also carries that wonder and excitement that comes with discovery in industrialism, and a man that sticks to his ideals and principles, even if they rest in the extreme. You can’t call Day-Lewis’s performance a performance, he is Plainview. Standing beside Plainview with his cherub face and innocent demeanour is Eli Sunday, with Paul Dano leaving an impressive mark. The smoky veil of evangelical religion, the empty rapture and redemption he offers, as Sunday looks to control his minions and his self fulfilment as a prophet and vessel of God.
Conjuring Kubrick through his direction, from the wordless opening and extended scenes, dramatic shifts, it all goes with a purpose. Anderson makes a dramatic and epic statement every scene, as there is always interaction, verbally or non verbal, or through the piercing stares between characters. Jonny Greenwood’s discordant score cuts through the landscape and characters, raising the tension to blood boiling levels, before dropping it in an instant. Robert Elswit’s cinematography captures the Western landscape magnificently.
If the long wordless opening made some viewers wondering where will this all end, the yang to this are the two final gut wrenching conversation, and the bone crushing final moments (diabolical with its odd humour, many will be talking about this than the layers of themes, allegories and mythology to dig through) that will permeate and linger long after leaving the cinema. There Will Be Blood is an epic masterpiece from a master story teller.