January 23, 2008

MOVIE: There Will Be Blood

There are many things to love about a P.T. Anderson film. He has created so many thrilling moments that are absolutely saturated with volatility and kinetic energy. He draws out incredibly visceral & animalistic performances from his actors. Despite all this, I have been disappointed by most of his films. He lets his own emotions/opinions overwhelm his subjects & characters. He has very little restraint as a director, and doesn't know how to temper the explosive moments with quieter ones. Magnolia was an entire movie made up of nothing but climaxes, and it got very boring and then just plain old exhausting.

Having said that, I have to admit that There Will Be Blood is an improvement for Anderson, and he seems to be paying more respect to narrative structure, and even practicing some restraint. But it's not enough. He's still suffering from the same ills that undermined him in his past endeavors. I did hear that he handed in a 5 hour movie and the studio made him cut it in half. Many people have told me they could've watched more of it. The ending definitely feels rushed, and extra time probably would've helped.(5 hour Director's Cut on DVD!) But I don't think an extra hour or even three would help this movie much. 2 and a half hours should be enough to explain what makes these characters tick, but the movie is too busy being allegorical to get into their inner life. My one big qualm was the handling of the character of H.W. As a child, H.W. is dark and sullen, and so desperate to secure his place by his father's side, that he resorts to arson. But the actor who plays H.W. as an adult version has a face that is full of sweetness and innocence. The character takes a similary confounding turn, as he is desperate to get away from his father to start a life with his equally sweet & benevolent bride. Extra scenes could help explain this transition, but it couldn't make it convincing.

I really wanted to be just swept away by this movie, but I wasn't. Still, I'm glad I went to go see it on the big screen, and I still have great hopes for Anderson's future projects.