Paul Thomas Anderson's fifth film, There Will Be Blood, is too monumental and odd to not provoke sharply divided opinions, but all reviews, from raves to revulsion, agree on two points: Daniel Day Lewis' performance as oilman Daniel Plainview is astonishing, and Jonny Greenwood's score is extraordinary. Lewis dominates the film, appearing in all but one scene, and Greenwood's music is used far more sparingly, yet it's no less indelible. From the moment the film opens to a spare, unrelenting Californian landscape, Greenwood's tense, coiled score mirrors the eerie emotional undercurrent to the film, pulling suppressed feelings to the surface, often with an almost operatic sense of drama. This is grand music, but it's also controlled, unleashing its furious clashes of dissonance with precision. Greenwood has demonstrated such mastery of mood as the guitarist within Radiohead, but There Will Be Blood is superficially far removed from that band's restless experiments with electronic music. There are no electric instruments here at all -- this is all orchestral music, created on instruments that were available at the film's setting of the beginning of the twentieth century, yet Greenwood doesn't attempt to re-create turn-of-the-century mores: he writes music that taps into the rotten heart of Daniel Plainview. This is magnificently unsettling music, whether it's used within the film or heard on its own terms; either way, it's impossible to forget after it's been heard.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
|There Will Be Blood, film score|