Academy award winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis wins once again at the Golden Globes for his performance in the epic drama "There Will Be Blood." The film, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is loosely based on Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel "Oil" and focuses on a ruthless prospector with an unquenchable thirst for money and power during the California oil boom. VOA's Penelope Poulou has a review.
In a mellifluous voice oil tycoon Daniel Plainview coaxes his audience to trust him: "Ladies and gentlemen," he says, "I've travelled over half our state to be here tonight. I couldn't get away sooner because my new well was coming in at Coyote Hills and I had to see about it. Ladies and gentlemen," he continues "if I say I'm an oilman you would agree. I am a family man. I run a family business. This is my son, my partner H.W. Plainview."
Daniel Plainview visits the poverty-stricken community of Little Boston, California on a tip. There is a lot of oil to be had there, a black sluggish ocean waiting to be extracted. Plainview is determined to get his hands on it at a bargain price. That puts him at odds with Eli Sunday, one of the ranch owners there. Eli is also a faith healer and the founder of Little Boston's Church of the Third Revelation. During dinner at Eli's ranch, Daniel measures his adversary up. He looks at him straight in the eye:"What would you like Eli?" He asks. Eli replies: "Ten-thousand dollars." Almost unable to hide his amusement and irritation Daniel fires back: "For what?" Pristinely, Eli replies:"For my church."
The animosity and tension between the two men is palpable. And it grows into lifelong hatred. Daniel Plainview wants complete control of the oil fields. Eli Sunday seeks power in the name of God. Both would relish the other's downfall.
So, when Daniel has to seek forgiveness in the name of the Lord in order to receive an oil field from a religious member of the community, Eli grabs the opportunity to degrade him. "We have a sinner with us here, who wishes for salvation," Eli calls out in the middle of his congregation. "Daniel, are you a sinner?" "Yes," replies Daniel. "Louder, Daniel!" demands Eli. "I am a sinner," Daniel concedes. Eli continues relentlessly, "you have abandoned your child. Say it!" Daniel screams"I have abandoned my child! I have abandoned my child! I have abandoned my boy!"
Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis is acclaimed as an actor who gets immersed into any character he portrays. But his interpretation of conflicted Daniel Plainview is a notch above anything else he's played before. An earnest businessman and a caring father at first, Plainview gradually gets hardened by money and personal tragedy. His son loses his hearing after an injury in the oil field. As a result, Plainview loses interest in the boy. But he is disturbed by his own darkness.
"I have a competition in me." He admits while talking to his brother. "I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people."
Plainview's pernicious hatred is gut-wrenching. The dissonant and brooding musical score by Jonny Greenwood makes the film even edgier. Up and coming actor Paul Dano is a force to be reckoned with in his performance as the pseudo prophet Eli Sunday. Director Paul Thomas Anderson offers a cinematic experience on the pain and sweat, the greed and ambition that were shed on California's oil fields in early 20th century America. The movie is reminiscent of such classic films as "Citizen Kane" and "The Giant." Those two made history. Anderson's film "There will be Blood," will too. In this critic's point of view, this was the best movie of the past year.