Just when I was worried that my nascent career as a movie critic might be dying, due to the fact that I don't go to many movies and tend to hate most of the ones I see, I found something else to write about: There Will Be Blood.
It is, as most people know, the much hyped movie based on Upton Sinclair's novel "Oil," starring the creepy-as-ever Daniel Day Lewis as an oil tycoon gone wild. And it is, in my often disputed opinion, really fucking boring.
Yes, I know what you're saying. I should never write movie reviews; I don't "get" genius; I have horrible taste, etc. That all may be true, but when I walked out of the movie theater last night, I promised myself I'd write something -- mostly to justify that use of two and a half hours of my Saturday night.
Because despite the movie's provocative title -- not to mention the jarring, stressful soundtrack, written by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood -- it's surprisingly dull. The movie stretches about thirty years, from the 1890s to late 1920s -- a span of time that you definitely feel, once you've entered the movie's interminable second hour. And yet despite its length, I, at least, never felt any real connection to the characters. Daniel Day Lewis wants oil? Fine. Give it to him. Don't really care. Crazy preacher character wants him to become baptised and accept Jesus as his savior? Fair enough. Take your little straw cross, make some profits, bash in some heads, and wrap things up already. The most compelling character in the story to me was Day Lewis's "son," orphaned early in the film during a mining accident. Only problem is, he doesn't talk much -- and then goes deaf halfway through the film (oops! Spoiler alert!), which means he spends the second half of the movie even quieter than he'd been in the first. That's about it for characters. (This is not to say, by the way, that Day Lewis is bad. I actually think he should get an Oscar for his performance. I'm just not interested in the character he was playing.)
Also, as anyone who knows me is very, very aware, I hate violent movies. So it might be strange to hear me say that, after the title of the movie, I was a little let down. Hardly any blood, people. I'd suggest turning your head, as I did, during the shooting and head-bashing scenes, but other than that? No blood. I mention that not because I was craving more head bashing/shooting scenes (if I'd wanted that, I'd have seen No Country for Old Men), but because I wanted dramatic tension, some conflict, something to care about. Instead, no one really challenged Day Lewis's character in his quest for oil; he didn't appear to have any aspirations other than money and a pipeline and a whole lot of whiskey. Which, if you couldn't figure it out on your own, is not a good recipe for a well-balanced life.
Anyway, point being, this movie didn't particularly bother me, but it didn't entertain me either. And it was long. And I was in the middle of the row. And, more than anything, I do not understand why people are calling it an epic, let alone something that goes to the "depths of the human psyche." Really? Is it because of its set design? Or Day Lewis's moustache? I guess it's a good thing most other films don't attempt to examine our psyche's depths, since apparently they're really fucking boring.
Lest it sound like I am just entirely a contrarian hater, though, I should point out that I also recently saw Juno and loved it. Loved it, loved it. Couldn't have asked for more. Would watch it again. But as for There Will Be Blood? Consider me your cautionary whale.
This is the blog for Salt Magazine.