Feb 062008
Authors: Jeff Schwartz

Movie critics have been almost unanimous in their praise of “There Will Be Blood,” though this praise is tempered with a sense of unease.

Roger Ebert compared the experience of seeing “There Will Be Blood” to “viewing a natural disaster that you cannot turn away from.”

Peter Travers, of Rolling Stone, wrote that the film makes you “feel so pummeled it’s hard to get your head clear.”

After reading these reviews I expected “There Will Be Blood” to leave me emotionally (and maybe even physically) drained by its end, but that’s not exactly what happened.

While the film is certainly intense, and at times unsettling, its tone is subtle, and its epic length (two hours and forty minutes) gives it the pace of a novel.

You may have noticed that I have avoided giving a declarative opinion on “There Will Be Blood.” This isn’t just stalling. I don’t exactly know how to feel about this film.

It does contain a spellbinding performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, and despite its length, the film always held my attention. But to understand “There Will Be Blood” you simply have to see it.

The film is loosely based on muckraking author Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel “Oil!” In the film, the story centers on Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis), a silver miner who inadvertently strikes oil, and begins a drilling business soon after.

But in this initially strange dichotomy between a singularly-minded oilman and a purported man of God, “There Will Be Blood” finds its central theme: the quest for power.

One of the surprises of the film is how well Paul Dano does in the role of Eli Sunday, an aspiring preacher (he also plays Eli’s twin brother Paul in one scene).

“There Will Be Blood” is a powerful film. It is not ‘entertaining’ in the traditional sense, but it is one of those films that linger in your memory long after you have left the theater.

Staff writer Jeff Schwartz can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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