THERE WILL BE BLOOD is an intense and nihilistic character study in the same vein (pun intended) as Kubrick’s masterpiece THE SHINNING, only without the metaphysics. PT Anderson’s film focuses on the madness of Daniel Plainview; though we see the story from his perspective we are never allowed intimate or empathetic contact with him. We are kept at a distance and experience his story from a cold emotional vantage point…which is a Kubrickian narrative convention.
But the parallels to the late great Stanley Kubrick continue. The film begins in darkness and isolation and as the camera pans upwards to the bleak mountains we hear a piercing whine; this evokes a feeling of dread and horror much like the Overlook...I thought for a moment that Wendy Carlos scored the film! When Anderson shoots in a close-up of Plainview it actually takes us farther away from the character; we feel like we’re next to a rabid animal ready to lash out at any moment. There are a few excellent tracking shots and scenes with long focal lengths keeping the participants as tiny figures amid the scenery….again, keeping the viewer emotionally detached from the drama.
This is not a film that carries a heavy plot; sure there is conflict between characters but there is no driving plot device…only the madness of Daniel Plainview. Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance channels the energy and insanity of Nicholson’s Jack Torrance; from the opening scene which showcases his isolation and obsessive nature to the brutal maddening climax. The final scene reminds me of the murder scene which bookends LOLITA; it’s funny and almost slapstick until the murder…then the seriousness of the event begins to sink in. Not only one of the best of 2007 but maybe one of the greatest American films in the last twenty years…only time will tell.
Final Grade: (A+)