A Contrary Review of There Will Be Blood

A Contrary Review of There Will be Blood by Paul Thomas Anderson
Rating ***

Readers of this blog will note that my reviews cover nonfiction exclusively. Additionally, I tend to review only films available on DVD. So why would I be writing a review about a current Oscar contender? The answer is that I felt compelled to say something contrary to the popular sentiment about this film.

I saw the film yesterday. It was a weekend showing, but I’d guess that there were perhaps a dozen people in the theater. My take after viewing the movie was that it was another Eyes Wide Shut or Brokeback Mountain: two films that did not live up to the hype in my opinion.

I normally have a good feel for spotting over hyped films: Open Water, The Blair Witch Project, etc. So I fully expected to go on line and read a review from someone that felt the same way I did. But no; every review I read was gushingly enthusiastic, claiming that this film is the next Citizen Kane, another movie I didn’t care for.

So here it is. The movie is okay. It’s not great by any means. It could easily have lost forty minutes of footage and not lost a thing. It was slow. It was only mildly entertaining. It had the most annoying soundtrack of any film in recent history. There wasn’t a single likable character except perhaps for HW. Most importantly, it had no redeeming value beyond the two plus hours it took to tell the story.

Many reviewers compare the movie to Citizen Kane. That’s because Paul Thomas Anderson copied from it. At least that film was an original. Why spend the time and money to tell a story that leaves you with the feeling that you just wasted three hours of your life. There’s no question that this is a dirty, bleak film made so by the context of the story and where it takes place. But other films that take place in bleak surroundings have left an impact — Letters From Iwo Jima, No Country For Old Men.

I am completely baffled by the reviewers who claim that the soundtrack is masterful. I’ve said it before, a soundtrack when done correctly can elevate a film from good to great, but a bad soundtrack draws attention to itself. If you can tell me that playing a single high pitch note for an extended time is masterful, then I obviously don’t know what I’m talking about.

If you want to see an Oscar caliber film that should be in the running but isn’t, go see Into The Wild. This film has everything that There Will Be Blood doesn’t have. It is a beautiful story told beautifully.

My prediction: There Will be Blood will go the way of Brokeback Mountain. To all the reviewers who have jumped on the praise bandwagon, I’ll leave you with this. The emperor has no clothes.

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