Loosely based on Oil! by Upton Sinclair
The rise and fall (?) of an oil baron in Southern California in the early years of last century.
Slight SPOILERS ahead, nothing huge. But if you care, watch it before you read any further.
We chez Otter really like Daniel Day-Lewis, and with all the hype this movie was getting, decided to spend a BIG chunk of our one free day this last weekend seeing it. It’s almost three hours long, folks! but we were brave, and there’s a good theater within walking distance, and the sun was shining.
So off we went. And in many ways, were not disappointed.
Firstly, as everyone is saying, Day-Lewis’ performance in this movie is nothing short of amazing. His voice, mannerisms, posture, everything is PERFECT. For that alone, this movie is worth seeing. Plus there’s Paul Hano, who does a fine job as the evangelistic minister who uses everyone around him to promote his church.
The settings, the effects, the writing…all were really, really good. (although I HATED the score, found it extremely distracting and inappropriate.)
And yet…Mr. Otter and I both walked out of the theater saying, well, it was really good, but what the heck happened there?
The first half of the movie is excellent- well written, well plotted, enjoyable…but the second half? it’s like the writers sat around saying, well, what do we do now? and decided to take everyone’s suggestions. Is it about Plainview and the wreck he makes of his life, using everyone around him and expecting to get away with anything he wants to because he’s rich? is it about him and his son, estranged since losing his hearing in an accident and finally so out of control that Plainview has to send him away? or is it about his antagonistic relationship with the minister, scoring points on each other, and paying off old enmities until the end is inevitable?
Any of these would have made for a fascinating movie…but all three at once? it just lost focus, and left us scratching our heads and saying, Huh?
Although the last scene was VERY SATISFYING, don’t get me wrong…
I think this one is a renter, not one to own- enjoy the performances and the talent, but you probably won’t want to see it more than once. I sure don’t.