Went to see There Will Be Blood on Friday night. I was really looking forward to seeing the movie. Heard nothing but good things about it and love Daniel Day Lewis. On one of her blogs, Ali talks about our walking out of the movie and going, "Well, then." And that is true.
The movie, if you haven't seen or read about it, is ostenibly about drilling for oil at the turn of the last century. It is also about family, greed, corruption and religion. Daniel Day Lewis is a self-made oil man, Daniel Plainview, who adopts a baby orphaned by an accident on one of his oil rigs. He finds a small, dirt-poor town sitting on top of a huge oil reserve and sets about duping the townsfolk in order to buy up the land. A local boy, a self-proclaimed profit, tries to oppose Daniel throughout. The movie follows the successes and tragedies that shape Daniel and everyone around him throughout the next dozen or so years.
I'm not sure exactly what didn't work for me. I thought the acting was superb. Daniel Day Lewis commands the screen. As does Paul Dano in a much quieter way as profit Eli Sunday. Paul Thomas Anderson adapted the screenplay from the book Oil by Upton Sinclair, and he directed the film. It seemed that at times he just started the camera, called "Action" and walked away for a while. And these are usually the same times when the score overwhelms the movie. I felt like "I get it, they're surveying" or "Yep, he's bonding with the baby."
When things do happen, they are usually gut wrenching. So I was left both hoping that something would happen and dreading it at the same time. There are things you see coming for a long time. Occasionally, the result of the event is different than what you expected, but not in a satisfying "Ah, I didn't see that coming" way. More of a "Hum, why that happen?" way.
Maybe it's because Anderson directed and wrote the screenplay so there was one place where an edit could have happened missing. I just don't know. Much of the dialogue seemed ad libbed, and not in a good way. Frankly, writers are paid for a reason, and much of it is to write good dialogue.
It was a movie that wanted to be great. I wanted it to be great. It just wasn't.