There Will Be Blood

Cameron asked for a review of There Will Be Blood with this comment last night. So here it is.

Daniel Day Lewis
is one of the top actors working right now. His performance in this movie about the early days of the oil business in the US is fantastic. Paul Dano also delivers an over the top effort as the preacher who torments him.

The acting is the star of this movie. The historical context is interesting. I was fascinated by the way the oil business developed in the early days of the 20th century.

But overall, I really did not enjoy the movie. The story didn’t pull me in and I honestly can’t say it was entertaining.

Bottom Line – see it if you like great acting but don’t see it if you want to be entertained.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Erik Peterson

    For some reason I really enjoyed this movie. The characters are incredibly entertaining, and you really get sucked into the world of Daniel Plainview. I can see how the ending would turn off a lot of people, but I thought it was perfect.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree that Daniel sucks you into his world. the ending was pretty amazing.

  2. S.t

    If anyone’s interested, there’s a great book about the discovery of oil and how it shaped history.It’s by Daniel Yergin, called THE PRIZE: THE EPIC QUEST FOR OIL, MONEY & POWER…(I love a book with maps)

  3. Zach

    I was a HUGE fan of Daniel Day Lewis in this film. The job he did was, to me, the only positive thing about about the movie. I admit that I may have had expectations that it was going to be great… but it wasn’t even good. I also thought that the editing was pretty poor; Lewis’ character developed too slowly in the first act and far too quickly in the last. Big disappointment for me…

  4. ErikSchwartz

    It was a really well made movie, but it’s hard to bond with a film with no sympathetic characters at all.

    1. fredwilson

      the son was a sympathetic character, at least to me

      1. ErikSchwartz

        True, and the girl he married too.On the whole watching the movie filled me with dread.

  5. patwoodward

    Charlie Rose interviews Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson here.…A hour of three great artists talking about TWBB.

  6. Siminoff

    Fred, watched it last night for the first time. Agree 100% with your review, found the overall movie bland.

  7. curmudgeonly troll

    TWBB is a ponderous, indulgent, arty load of bollocks.The point seems to be that successful business and spiritual leaders are over-the-top lying psychopaths. They are two sides of the same coin (look at Steve Jobs, that’ll make a good movie someday), but not in any sense explored in this movie.If you have to pick a depressing Western, go see No Country For Old Men.

    1. fredwilson

      i loved No Country For Old Men. the Javier Bardem character is equally depraved (more so actually) but the story worked for me.but most of all, I love your comments curmudgeonly troll. who else could start with that first line!

  8. Steve

    Couldn’t agree more with your brief analysis. I happen to love most PT Anderson films, but this one did not just do it for me. Movies that are that long cannot be slow. Not only did I not enjoy it, my girlfriend gave me the look after it ended that means I am suspended from film picks for at least a few months…

    1. fredwilson

      the penalty box. i’ve ben there myself.

    2. Cameron

      As a random note, I have been in situations where I felt like I was going to be in the penalty box and ultimately that anxiety affects my ability to enjoy a movie / concert / etc. If you are already a fan of PT Anderson films, i’d give it another try sometime.

      1. fredwilson

        Try being in the penalty box full time!

  9. David

    I felt let down. I was waiting for something big to happen (it never really did) and the plot seemed disjointed – one minute he is in a mine accident, the next he has a son and is an oilman.

  10. Lucas

    I don’t think that really counts as a review.

  11. Lloyd Fassett

    Thanks for writing this up Fred, i was wondering what you’d think when you twittered you were going to see it. I”m at the other end of the review spectrum though and I loved it.I was amazed that this film got made because it’s hostile to the audience. I asked a friend in the movie industry who said it was just because Daniel Day Lewis said yes that it happened at all. In today’s NYT’s, business section, page 7 is a really cool graphic of domestic box office receipts by each week of a movie’s release for the last year. Right there it shows where the market is…Spider-Man-3 ($182 million in one week), Shrek the Third, Transformers, etc. You could predict that There Will Be Blood would not find a mass audience, but it’s so far from the predictable proven – you have to have a happy ending or we won’t fund you – song and dance, I’m amazed it got financed. I was bummed it didn’t get best picture because while it had a really late peak at 7 weeks, I thought an award would make it’s peak even later.Their is a lot of there, there behind the action on the screen to this movie. The movie challenges people to figure it out. The protagonist risking his life to save his kid, except that he’s more interested in the gusher. The lost family member gets taken in, only to have been another reason for pushing family away. He was character more like this Steinbeck quote from Cannery Row, “where men hungering for love destroy everything lovable about them.” Paul Thomas Anderson reinvents himself with this movie from his achievements with Magnolia and Boogie Nights, flying frogs not withstanding.The comments here, and from others places, made me look to see how Death of a Salesman was received in 1948 (very well), so I found no solice there. This movie reminds me of that play because there’s a couple of trajic characters destroying themselves. The reletive reviews don’t matter though. I think this film is a classic for the top 100 of all time lists.

    1. fredwilson

      Good pointsMaybe it would have been better in the theaterFred

  12. Cameron

    Well Fred, looks like the academy agreed with you with best actor Day-lewis and no love for the Best Pic. I am really surprised to see so much negativity towards the movie in the comments. I wonder the extent to which most people were hit with too much hype for the movie (kind of like my own comment).Lloyd, you are my friend. I couldn’t agree more on the “top 100” sentiment.

  13. Lloyd Fassett

    Hey Cameron – right back at ya ‘brutha!The negative comments aren’t just here, but wide spread I believe. Perhaps I should have used ‘Tropic of Cancer’ by Henry Miller from 1927 instead of ‘Death of a Salesman’ as another analogy of ill-received creative expressions that makes its audience work. I saw this just because Paul Thomas Anderson made it. Now I’d like to see whatever the executives that backed this movies make because they have some real brass balls. That’s not so different than watching exciting entrepreneurs try for their second+ businesses and watching the people that back them…like Twitter.

  14. MikePLewis

    I actually kind of enjoyed the ending – as it was perfect for the tone of the movie. However, i agree the film wasn’t that enjoyable. I’d like to know more about the motivation behind Plainview – why did he become that way?When PT Anderson came out with Magnolia there was a thought that this guy is going to create the next American cinematic masterpiece. This film isn’t that film, but it’s overall quality re-enforces that idea

  15. Eric Falcao

    I agree with you Fred, I loved the entrepreneurial aspect of the movie and seeing the business develop, but in the end it just kind of dragged on.

  16. laurentk

    Pretty much agree – I’ve been a little disappointed by the story line.However, Daniel is amazing, and didn’t you think the music was hypnotizing ? I personally have never seen that. For future readers who haven’t seen the movie yet, concentrate on the soundtrack while watching the movie, the music (sounds?) alone transport you to the mind of Daniel Plainview.

  17. sull

    i went to see this alone last week.i agree. it’s neither here nor there.the acting was masterful.the context was accurately portrayed.character development was limited but what was offered was done so well…. that you basically did’nt need the normal additional scenes to hep you get to know the was definately a unique modern film.i did like it. but i left feeling awkward. what did i just experience? that’s probably a positive response for a film like if i was entertained, it was an unfamiliar form.interesting.