|if you want to see a dominant Daniel Day-Lewis giving an acting class in an epic film that simplistically describes the rise and fall of a oil magnate
|Paul Thomas Anderson
|Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Brad Carr, Ciarán Hinds, Kevin Breznahan, Kevin J. OConnor, Mary Elizabeth Barret, Russell Harvard
|8th February 2008
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, miner Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) was hoping to strike silver but he ended up striking gold – black gold. He quickly developed a method for extracting and collecting the oil that spouted out from the ground and within a few years, be became an oil prospector as successful as he was ruthless.
When one of his staff was killed in a mining accident, he took on the man’s son as his own, to give him the family-man image that helped him get land-owners on his side.
When a local man tips him off to a potentially huge underground reservoir of oil, Plainview sets out to buy a farm from the father of a young priest, who immediately takes against the oil-man.
Over the years, a battle of wits between the two men leads to the inevitable conclusion, suggested by the title.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
This is not a film. This is a performance.
The story, such that it is, is linear and simplistic, with few surprises.
For only one or two brief moments does Daniel Day-Lewis‘s relentless pounding, shouting and show-casing give way to any sense of humility, as he gives other actors a rare opportunity to share the limelight.
The director effectively conjures up the period and manages to say a thing or two about organised religion in his tale of this ruthless, power-hungry and oil-thirsty businessman.
The cinematography and music are certainly grand and impressive enough to give the key performance a stage, but this is far more an experience of watching Day-Lewis in an acting master-class than watching any kind of an emotional journey.
Long before the two and a half hours are up, you may well feel that you’ve seen quite enough grand-standing for one evening.