Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, my favorite American movie of 2007, is being bashed for all kinds of reasons.
Some criticisms tell us more about the reviewer than the movie.
But most of the criticisms target the final scene, in which Daniel Day Lewis utters the phrase “I drink your milkshake!” Many have criticized this final scene as being too over the top, saying that the dialogue is ridiculous.
I would ask them to consider a few things:
CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD!
1) The character who goes so far over the top has just consumed what appears to be a large bottle of whiskey. The whole thing. He chugs it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard rumors that alcohol can tend to make a person a little, oh, flamboyant. If this scene wasn’t over-the-top, I’d have a serious problem with it.
2) The line that people find so laughable — “I drink your milkshake” — might not seem so ridiculous after they read this.
[UPDATED] 3) At Barbara Nicolosi’s blog, in the comments posted to her rant against Blood*, someone asked, “Why did Eli pour three drinks when there were only two people present?” Someone named Matthew Foss replied:
Eli poured three drinks because it was symbolic of Christ and the last supper. During the passover meal Hebrew tradition has 4 glasses being consumed. Christ was on the third glass at the last supper which is called the Eucharistic glass. Then while on the cross Christ said, “I thirst” and was given bitter wine. He then bowed his he and said “it is finished.” That is what Anderson was trying to replicate in the exact opposite way — his way of showing Eli and Plainview as opposite of Christ — hence, “I am finished” is the last line.
I’ll be rooting for There Will Be Blood on Oscar night, although I suspect that voters will either go for No Country for Old Men because the Coens are overdue, or they’ll go for Juno because those voting for more ambitious filmmaking will have their votes split between Blood and No Country. (Don’t get me wrong, I like Juno, but its first twenty minutes has some rather clunky scenes, and while some things work very nicely, I think of it more as a fantastic after-school special rather than a timeless work of art.) There Will Be Blood, like the great films of Kubrick and Altman, will still be studied and copied by other talented filmmakers in twenty years. And Juno will still be wearing its big cute heart on its sleeve.