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The Northerner

Film shows bad ‘Blood’ in oil

Carey Mosley

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Associated Press

One man’s all-consuming ambition leads him into a power struggle with faith in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Oscar-nominated “There Will be Blood.”

Based loosely on Upton Sinclair’s novel “Oil!” the film offers audiences a chilling cocktail of greed, power and manipulation.

Set among the arid hills of turn-of-the-century California, the film follows the story of Daniel Plainview, a downtrodden silver miner turned independent oil tycoon.

Intrigued by the enigmatic Paul Sunday’s tale of an ocean of black gold oozing from the dusty grounds of his family’s ranch, Plainview sets off with his son, H.W., to investigate the claims.

An eruption of oil soon rumbles through the once sleepy town of Little Boston, leaving its people blindly swallowing Plainview’s promises of growth and easy living.

Not to be overlooked, the town’s fanatical minister, Eli Sunday (Paul’s twin brother), slithers his way into the picture.

In an attempt to further his religious hold on the community, Eli strikes a bargain with the devil himself: Plainview.

As a series of events unfold, Plainview and Sunday soon find themselves at opposing ends in a fiery power struggle. Little Boston quickly becomes for egotism and greed.

Ranging from panoramic views of a barren desert to claustrophobia-inducing shots inside actual oil mines, each carefully-crafted scene drives home the harsh reality of Plainview’s life.

Equally important is the film’s score. Composed by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, it is delightfully chaotic. The music flows sinuously from sweeping chords of grandeur to jarringly harsh notes.

Daniel Day Lewis’ gripping portrayal of the unscrupulous Daniel Plainview commands attention even while viewers are repulsed by the character’s actions. One cannot look away as Day Lewis delivers one powerful diatribe after another on the uselessness of humanity.

Lewis captured Plainview’s gradual decent into madness with methodical ease. Paul Dano’s take on the charismatic Eli Sunday blends beautifully with Day Lewis’ Plainview.

Dano’s versatility shines through when the normally soft-spoken Eli succumbs to a bout of rage against his father. The frenzy in which Eli attacks his father is a sight to behold. The audience can practically feel the anger radiating off him. Day Lewis and Dano find the perfect balance between these two powerful characters.

Brutally intense, the film makes no apology for its violent beauty. Every scene and every line is purposely created to draw out even the most unwilling of audiences’ reactions.

From teeth-grinding anger to nauseating disgust to crushing sadness, the emotional roller coaster ride ends only when Anderson says it does.

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Film shows bad ‘Blood’ in oil