Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007
There was Tony Montana, Jett Rink, Charles Foster Kane, and Michael Corleone. Then there’s Daniel Plainview. They are a bunch of avaricious bastards; men who want a second meal even though they’re not yet finished with the first one. They are successful businessmen on the outside, but tragic human beings on the inside. They have themselves as their worst enemy.
Daniel Plainview is a miner until he suffered a broken leg. The oil business seemed like a perfect match to Daniel’s ambitious nature. Along with his charisma and a cute baby boy, Daniel embarked on a journey that would shape the future of his oil business. He persuaded people to let him irrigate their land and bought their oil lesser than its worth.
His business is a big success, and it’s scary. Daniel’s success is frightening because it would serve as an instrument for his destruction; it would offer him wealth and threat at the same time. Daniel would do anything to stay on top. For him, people are like cockroaches that he need to exterminate.
Paul Thomas Anderson combines drama, thriller, and comedy in this flaming tale of ambition, success, and greed. He balances the film’s dramatic theme with his flair for dark humor. Anderson is probably one of the versatile filmmakers alive. Who would think that he’s the same guy who directed Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Punch-Drunk Love?
In my opinion, There Will Be Blood is the distinctive one among Anderson’s films. One might see some elements used in Giant (e.g., oil business, self-destructive man), but There Will Be Blood has a fire of its own. Unlike in Magnolia, there are no long takes in this film, mostly close-ups. The film’s music infuses terror; you’ll know when there’s trouble approaching.
There Will Be Blood shows the audience that when there’s greed, there’s blood (figuratively and literally). It also aims to tell us that money, indeed, cannot buy happiness. Success and power cannot make a person greater than the other. Just like H.W., I thank God I have none of Daniel Plainview in me.
Trailer for There Will Be Blood: