There Will Be Blood (2007)
Paul Thomas Anderson's dense and comprehensive film about the cynical, misanthropic oil magnate Daniel Plainview in the late 19th century is a massive, impressive and unapproachable epic. The technical aspects of both writing and filmmaking take us vividly and immediately back to a time and place with completely different ethics and maxims. This is where There Will Be Blood is at its strongest, propelled by Daniel Day-Lewis' incredibly detailed and encompassing performance. There is a remarkable moment early on when Plainview and his son arrive at the Sunday ranch. In a matter of seconds, Anderson is able to portray the essence in what is different between the 1890s and present day and how Plainview represents the impetus of this change.
There are subtle observations scattered all through There Will Be Blood. But as Plainview grows more and more unwieldy and cold, the human aspect of Anderson's story diminishes. He cannot seem to fill the void left by Day-Lewis' enormous performance. Instead, the filmmaker falls into the trap of basing too much of his film around the Irishman's presence - not letting the other elements in his film breathe. In order to make the picture more potent, Anderson adheres to extremities, which in some cases – like with the Paul Dano character – becomes counter-productive. The final scene works more like a joke than as effective, poignant drama as Dano falls flat alongside Day-Lewis' oversized character and Anderson's iconoclastic frames.