Oscar glory beckons for Daniel Day-Lewis, at his imperious, explosive best as turn-of-the-century oilman Daniel Plainview in Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood. Pitting his capitalist ambitions against young preacher Paul Dano's fanatical evangelism, the Boogie Nights man presents a gripping saga of obsession, corruption and greed topped off with an audacious finale that more than delivers on his movie's doom-laden title. Hypnotic, poetic and often downright strange, the remarkable result is every bit as combustible as the black stuff itself.
Anderson starts as he means to go on with a daring opening sequence that charts Day-Lewis's early stabs at silver mining entirely without words - an admirably economical device that shows prospecting to be a dirty, dangerous and frequently deadly business. Prologue done, Plainview is revealed to be a silver-tongued opportunist keen to make his fortune in California's petroleum-rich heartland. When his quest leads him to the small town of Little Boston, however, he finds his way barred by Eli Sunday (Dano), a charismatic preacher determined to ensure his church benefits from the black gold that lies beneath their feet.
"TIMELESS, SWEEPING EPIC"
It's easy to draw parallels between the antagonists' ideological battle to contemporary conflicts involving oil and religion. Yet Anderson's film is also timeless – a sweeping epic in the classic Hollywood tradition that invites comparison with Citizen Kane and Giant. As lofty as its themes are, though, There Will Be Blood finally works best as a thrilling vehicle for its star's fiery majesty and remarkable ability to disappear inside every role he takes on.
There Will Be Blood is out in the UK on 8th February 2008.