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There Will Be Blood: Review From My Netflix Queue

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I know There Will Be Blood is a movie I was supposed to love. I was supposed to find Daniel Day Lewis’ performance as turn-of-the-century oil prospector Daniel Plainview riveting and explosive. I was supposed to be intrigued by the ethical implications that arise when greed, oil and religion combine. I was supposed to be horrified by the shades of evil and inhumanity at every turn.

But in the end, this is the word that came to me: eh.

Don’t hate me, but I just didn’t care for it. Maybe it was the ridiculous title. Or maybe it was the idea of watching a movie centered on two of my least-favored subjects: oil and fanatical religion, but something set a bad taste in my mouth about There Will Be Blood.

The film is ambitiously epic, centered on the cruel, calculating Daniel Plainview as he heartlessly wrests land from the hands of hardscrabble families to amass his oil empire through California. His character is a chameleon of evil, morphing into a silver-tongued charmer and a brutally cruel murderer at even turns. Plainview’s recurring nemesis in the film is a self-proclaimed man of god, played with eerily haunting realism by Paul Dano. Think Malachi from Children of the Corn only spookier.

When these two characters interplay, the film is electric. It is a gruesome portrait of religion put in the wrong hands. It is supposed to make you uncomfortable. It is supposed to leave you chilled. But did that make it worthwhile to watch? I’m not sure. In the end, this is what I felt: There are films that are difficult to watch but are ultimately rewarding to the viewer. And then there are films that are difficult to watch and leave you with nothing afterwards. Guess where I stand on this one.

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