I saw There Will Be Blood last night. My review, in brief:
Good stuff first: Some nice cinematography, a few good performances, a couple of haunting and cathartic moments, a few smart sound design choices (pulleys of an oil rig sounding like church bells, for instance) but what are we supposed to make of the rest of the movie? The movie was at its best when it explored the relationship between the main character and his younger counterpart, but it didn’t spend enough time on this to warrant a 150+ minute film.
This movie impressed me as slow, cynical, nihlistic, self-indulgent and self-important. A thematic mess. Characters whose motivations we don’t understand, especially the main character. (What is his backstory? We know almost nothing about this sociopath) On-the-nose dialogue that is embarassingly bad. The sound design / score constantly called attention to itself.
If someone finds depth and intelligence in this movie, I think it’s because of their own effort, and not because of what the film offered. Definitely not a strong candidate for Best Picture. Okay, I get that it highlights the evils of oil and Christian fundamentalism (in an election year, of course!). We get the refrain that George Bush is evil. This makes the movie trite and predictable.
Jeffrey Overstreet calls this film “a masterpiece.” I don’t think he has interpreted the film on its own terms; instead, he has imposed his own worldview on the movie — this is eisegesis, not exegesis.
How did this movie get a Best Picture nomination, and not The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford?
If you have a different opinion, please post a comment. I am honestly interested in alternate viewpoints / insights.