Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Daniel Day Lewis, Dillon Freasier, Paul Dano, Ciaran Hinds

"When ambition meets faith"

Cinema 4, Gateway Cineplex

My fiance asked me if this film which lasted almost 3 hours (2 hours and 40 minutes to be exact) was boring. My answer how can any film with Daniel Day Lewis be boring? OK well admittedly I am biased, I am a fan of the British actor who has the immeasurable ability to totally immersed himself in any role. He effortlessly becomes the character he is hired to portray.

In this film, he is Daniel Plainview. A man who with pure grit and willpower lifted himself from very dire circumstances to become a wealthy oilman. In turn, he is consumed with unquenchable greed, conflicted with his inner competitive self and hounded by religion. His wealth hardly masks his troubled life which brings about a disturbing change in his flawed personality.

The main bone of contention between me and my sister is whether Plainview was an evil man from the onset or whether his ascent to power and wealth made him evil. By evil I am loosely referring to his burst of cruelty, his obsessively ruthless demeanor and I'd say he definitely has anger management issues. The fact remains that Plainview has always been ambitious. His success didn't surface overnight, it was achieved through sheer hard work, driven by his gnawing need to be the first one to discover oil in seemingly barren lands. A man who doesn't possess much social skills but he can be quite charming in his quest to 'rob' innocent, simple minded folks of their oil filled properties. A man willing to use an innocent child to warm his way into the heart of the community. A person who can easily manipulate others but is too cunning to be manipulated himself.

The film is long indeed but it is a very interesting case study of a person you can't help but admire for his aggression yet at the same time you can't help but dislike for his overbearing mean nature. A love and hate relationship, I'd say. It also showcases strong father son bonding moments sans mushy sickening photographic scenes. It presents the relationship in all its complicated glory. Special mention goes to the young child, Dillon Freasier who portrays the endearing H.W. Plainview. His doe eyed face was a good contrast to the hardened chiseled facade of Daniel Day Lewis.

The first few minutes of the movie is stunningly silent. You merely see a scene of a man working himself to the bone. You wonder if you accidentally walked in to a silent film. Your senses are jarred back by the narration delivered in a deep throated voice. A few seconds pass by when you suddenly realize it is indeed Daniel Day Lewis speaking as Plainview. From then onwards, his presence is in every single frame yet you don't get bored with his performance. You are riveted to the screen as if in a trance.

As opposed to the numbing silence in the beginning of the movie, some scenes are fraught with a piercing soundtrack of music that feels like it is drilling deep into your brain. It slices across a cinematography of oil rich filled land in the vast frontier of early turn of the century, extreme close ups of Plainview's anguished face to scenes of nameless gullible faces being swayed by the machinations of a intriguing false preacher. This movie is well crafted, cleverly directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and powerfully essayed on screen by the masterful artistry of Daniel Day Lewis.

As to my prognosis whether he was 'evil' or not. I maintain that he was a despicable character from the onset. He has always been that way, it is just unfortunate that his rise to success merely edged it out of him instead of turning him into a nurturing likable person. But it has to be said that in portraying such a complicated and conflicted character in his esteemed film career, Daniel Day Lewis truly deserved the accolade he got from winning the Best Actor Award in the recently concluded 80th Academy Awards (the Oscars). His eloquent speech said it all:
My deepest thanks to the members of the Academy for whacking me with the handsomest bludgeon in town. I'm looking at this gorgeous thing you've given me and I'm thinking back to the first devilish whisper of an idea that came to him and everything since and it seems to me that this sprang like a golden sapling out of the mad, beautiful head of Paul Thomas Anderson.

I wish my son and my partner HW Plainview were up here with me, the mighty Dillon Freasier. So many people to thank. One amongst them would be Mrs. Plainview down there, the enchantingly optimistic, open-minded and beautiful Rebecca Miller.

I hope that all those to whom I owe and to whom I feel the deepest gratitude will forgive me if I say just simply, "Thank you, Paul."

I've been thinking a lot about fathers and sons in the course of this, and I'd like to accept this in the memory of my grandfather, Michael Balcon, my father, Cecil Day-Lewis, and my three fine boys, Gabriel, Ronan and Cashel. Thank you very much indeed. Thank you.

I thank you Daniel Day Lewis for yet another memorable character, we will cherish for years to come.

2 popcorn buckets:

Keith said...

Look like you really like movies.

D@phn3 L@ur@ said...

Yes Keith watching movies is a passion I take seriously :)

Thanks for dropping by


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