Opening 14 Feb 2008
(Nancy T) Opening February 14, 2007
Inspired by Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil! (predicated on turn-of-the-century California oil tycoons, including Edward Doheny, whose family mansion was used for the filming), five-time Oscar nominee Paul Thomas Anderson’s (Magnolia, Boogie Nights) epic chronicles the rise of Daniel Plainfield (Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis) from struggling silver miner to millionaire oil baron. We are actually in the narrow mine shaft with loner Plainfield as he incessantly assaults nature in the inhumane process of gouging this out of the ground, which reduces his person to such a bestial level that once he does strike his mineral (one of the very few lucky ones) all it does is feed his hate. His confrontation with Eli Sunday (Paul Dano, Little Miss Sunshine) is one manifestation of this. Pastor Eli has power issues of his own, witness his scene blaming his father for selling land to Plainfield which rates highest for scare tactics, and reveals that obsession out in the plains was not limited to prospectors.
This is a wonderful, five-star film. Day-Lewis and Dano are magnificent. Did not mind Day-Lewis’ accent or the original music/sounds by Jonnie Greenwood of the band Radiohead – which called a bit too much attention to itself at times. Includes some of the vilest curses imaginable – rated R for violence. (Nancy Tilitz)