First of all, I'd like to welcome Mr. Lewis back to the world of film. It's been a while since My Left Foot, and we're all happy to see that you can still act as well as anybody. Second of all, I'd like to direct a general question to MPAA: Why is this movie rated "R?" The only scene gory enough to merit an R rating is at the very end, and we don't even see the impact. All we see is the aftermath and the widening pool of blood from which the movie derives its name. There are no F-words, and, in fact, very little profanity at all. But I digress. I must move on to the actual review.
First impression: this movie is excellent, and well worth the $8.00 that I was charged and that my friend didn't have to pay because the cute girl at the box office liked him. Whatever. Anyway, the first fifteen minutes of the movie truly set the tone for the rest. There are practically no words spoken, except for those muttered underneath the breath of the broken-legged Daniel Day-Lewis. For those of you who don't know, the movie is based on the Upton Sinclair novel, "Oil!," and follows one Daniel Plainview on his careening descent into darkness. The movie begins, as I have said, with Mr. Plainview alone in a deep hole, mining for oil. When he gets close, he lights a stick of dynamite and climbs out of the shaft, trying desperately to haul his tools up as well. He slips, his tools explode, and he climbs back into the shaft, where he falls and breaks his left leg. The movie spans 29 years of Mr. Plainview's life, from his beginnings in 1898, to his inevitable decline into madness in 1927. The majority of the story takes place in 1911, when he buys the property of the Sunday family for $6 an acre. He seems like a nice man at first, but proves to be just as slippery as the "black gold" that serves as his lifeblood.
He cheats the family out of $5000, ruins their land, and wreaks havoc on the group dynamic of the Sunday family. Oil guides his thoughts, actions, and emotions, as is revealed in a talk with another major character. Mr. Plainview reveals that "he always sees the worst in people," and that "he's been building up his hate for people piece by piece over the years." You see, Daniel Plainview wants nothing more than to be left alone by anybody he's ever known or loved. The essential theme of the movie, in my humble opinion, is that the so-called "American Dream," if it ever existed at all, was born of nothing more than greed and lust for power. What the movie has to say about America is oftentimes not pretty, but it strikes a chord in its truthfulness.
Bottom Line: A+ This is definitely worth your money and the time you will spend thinking about its implications on the modern society we live in.