There Will Be Blood is a slow-moving whirlwind that suddenly, utterly spent, just finishes. Daniel Plainview, oil man, family man, small businessman, and half Blood’s lifeblood, head hung low between his shoulders, exhausted amidst the destroyed remains of his mansion’s bowling alley (it’s telling that this character would bring America’s most popular amateur sport into his home), the titular liquid collecting at the side of the frame, is suddenly bereft of enemies, bereft of the need to struggle, and thus Paul Thomas Anderson’s film is bereft of the need to continue. One almost wishes the film’s last frame would catch in the projector gate and burn, thus physically closing the loop on the movie’s final conflagration. This much-debated ending is the queasy aftermath of a serious purge. But even by the time the nauseous opening drone of Jonny Greenwood’s disquieting score segues into a sickening glissando, it was already clear that something’s not right in Paul Thomas Anderson’s vision of America—something unhealthy, maybe even unearthly, is in the process of becoming. The feature film that follows, Anderson’s fifth, quickly introduces us to this otherworldly, yet finally, utterly American creation, who commands the director’s widescreen frames through the film’s running length. (I’ll leave it an open question for now as to who is truly in control of There Will Be Blood.)
Click here to read the rest of Jeff Reichert’s review of There Will Be Blood, one of Reverse Shot’s Best of 2007.