Bad Dialogue? Or Real History?

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:


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.

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  • John Doe

    “Some criticisms tell us more about the reviewer than the movie.”

    All criticism tells you more about the reviewer than the piece being criticized, including yours. I’m not sure what you were trying to say with that statement.

  • I wonder how popular the line will be when it’s finally released on DVD.

  • Seems to me I remember The Simpsons episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns” is founded upon the historical events that gave rise to the milkshake line. There’s something about horizontal drilling or some such. At any rate, seems to me these detractors are trying to do a bit of their own milkshake drinking.

    Of course, I say this not having yet seen the film….

  • I agree – I think it’s a real shame when, in an attempt to find SOMEthing wrong with a film, will pull something out of the air like magic. It seems like such a silly thing to quibble over, too. I mean, it just goes to show how they’re grasping at straws. I found that last scene terrifying and beatiful and riveting all at once. It was excellent.

  • chrisfilmmaker

    Not only is he drunk, but I’d say he’s pretty much insane by this point (depending on your definition of insanity) and doesn’t often deal with people other than his servants.

    In addition, I’d add that I think people are so used to seeing only one kind of acting that they just aren’t reacting well to Daniel Day-Lewis’s unusual style here, but I thought it was an amazing performance. I really want to see the movie again simply to watch him. Now that I’ve seen it once, I can do that and not have to focus primarily on what’s happening in the movie.